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BCCSA’s silica mitigation app nears finish line

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A new silica mitigation app is almost ready for prime time.

Members of the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) Civil Infrastructure Council (CIC) were given a demonstration of the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance’s (BCCSA) mobile silica exposure mitigation application on March 18. The application will be released at the end of the month for B.C. safety regulators.

The app will also be demonstrated later in the spring at a safety alliance and safety regulator conference in Toronto, and the BCCSA expects a deeper rollout of the app later in the year for all participant members.

"The goal is to secure the participation of safety associations in other provinces to help fund the national rollout of the application and all related ongoing maintenance and required customization to conform to the unique regulatory requirements of each jurisdiction," CIC chair Henry Borger said.

Work on the app began in 2014, with the BCCSA, the University of British Columbia and WorkSafeBC working together to gather data to study the effects of silica exposure. The app allows for users to input data about their worksites, obtain exposure mitigation measures and regulatory compliance information on mobile devices or via the web.

At a previous demonstration to CCA members, app developer Hugh Davies explained the tool generates a data matrix with all the silica exposure data available, then any employer who needs to do a risk assessment can enter basic descriptive information and use that information to measure potential silica exposure to workers.

Davies also said at the time that the intent was to make the app, if it proved popular, a "one stop shop" for silica mitigation tools and information.

Silica is one of the most common materials on a construction site and if inhaled can cause silicosis, a potentially lethal respiratory disease. Silica damage can create scarring and thicken the lung tissue and can also cause lung cancer.

Activities as varied as chipping and sawing, building demolition, jackhammering and tunneling can release silica into the air. Silica is present in Concrete, masonry, granite, asphalt-containing rock or stone and abrasive used for blasting.

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