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1610b ‘workplace health without borders’ – building capacity in the reduction of exposure to respirable crystalline silica (rcs)
  1. K Hedges1,
  2. M O’ Reilly2,
  3. DF Goldsmith3,
  4. O Malik4,
  5. E Cauda5
  1. 1Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) Inc., Toronto, Canada
  2. 2State University of New York, Albany NY, USA
  3. 3George Washington University, Washington DC, USA
  4. 4ECOH Management Inc., Mississauga, Canada
  5. 5National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Greater Pittsburgh, USA


Introduction RCS exposure remains a major concern both in developed and developing countries. A recent assessment estimated that about 4 40 000 deaths from cancer attributable to RCS exposure will occur in Europe alone, from 2010 to 2069; the burden and loss of life in economically developing countries is anticipated to be even more bleak. Unless exposure to RCS is controlled, many hundreds of thousands of lives will be lost from silicosis, silico-tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

One aim of the international non-profit organisation, Workplace Health Without Borders (WHWB,, is to build expertise in preventing workplace disease and injury worldwide. There is a wealth of experience amongst the WHWB membership in assessing the health risk and controlling exposures to RCS. Information shared through WHWB can be leveraged in economically developing countries to expedite the reduction of the unacceptably high risk of lung disease by preventing exposures.

Methods An overview of the global silica problem will be presented using the latest epidemiological literature as a reference; also a snapshot of learnings, good practices from WHWB presentations, training, and control initiatives such as those provided for agate workers in India. Learnings from research carried out in Queensland, Australia will be shared, to facilitate improvement in RCS exposure reduction, internationally.

Results WHWB is considered as an ‘information hub’ and ‘conduit of good practices’. Through its membership, collaborations can be developed to expedite good practices, which in turn can be shared globally. Additionally, the WHWB initiatives in reducing exposures to RCS align well with the ongoing WHO efforts to document the number of silicosis cases, worldwide.

Discussion WHWB is working collaboratively to focus its efforts while avoiding duplication, especially in underserved populations and for informal work groups and communities. Partners who work closely with WHWB on RCS education and exposure control include OHTA and the University of Toronto, amongst others.

  • silica-related lung disease
  • developing countries
  • education and training

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