silica and moulding sands association (samsa) part of the Mineral Products Association (MPA)


silica and moulding
sands association


Health and safety


Everyone who works in a quarry must be competent, with the exception of trainees who are under the instruction of a competent person. SAMSA members invest in training and/or competence assessment for every single one of their direct employees. NVQ/QCF qualifications are among the many ways that the industry is able to demonstrate the competence of its workforce at every level from operative to senior manager.

Silica dust:

Silica sand grains present no health risk – they are just like the silica sand grains found on all of the beaches surrounding our coastline. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that people living near to quarries, or indeed near to beaches, are at increased risk to their health.

However, certain high-energy industrial processes involved in the processing and downstream use of silica (eg crushing and grinding) can generate significant quantities of harmful respirable crystalline silica dust. Long term daily exposure, usually over periods of many years, to high levels of this dust can lead to the industrial lung disease silicosis among workers. Silicosis is the oldest known occupational disease, having first been identified 400 years ago. More recently research has indicated that workers with silicosis, operating in certain industry sectors but not all, may be at higher risk of developing lung cancer.

Thankfully, silicosis is an entirely preventable disease and therefore any increased lung cancer risk among workers should also be preventable. Any risk of disease can be effectively controlled by following good practice measures to reduce exposure to levels which are below the Workplace Exposure Limit prescribed by the Health and Safety Executive.

Alongside employer and worker representatives from 15 industry sectors, SAMSA members are signatories to the European Social Dialogue Agreement on “Workers' Health Protection Through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products Containing it”. SAMSA members are therefore required to demonstrate their commitment to exposure reduction through implementation of good practice controls, monitoring of exposure levels, provision of personal protective equipment where required and through the provision of training and health surveillance to workers. Details of the agreement and its accompanying Good Practice Guide, which is also relevant to downstream users of silica sand products, can be found at


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