Exposure to crystalline silica dust in riding arenas presents health hazards for horse trainers and riding coaches. They are at risk for several respiratory conditions if they work primarily in a riding arena or round pen with sand footing, as almost all sand contains crystalline silica. As the horses work, they disturb the silica, producing a fine, airborne silica dust.
In one case, a trainer was exposed to crystalline silica dust while working 7 to 12 horses a day in a sand longeing arena for more than two decades. The trainer died of lung cancer, linked to that exposure. Prolonged exposure can also lead to silicosis, a lung disease that can be fatal, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in both humans and horses.
WorkSafeBC has produced a new Bulletin explaining the hazards, suggesting ways to prevent exposure, and outlining the need for an exposure control plan. By law, employers must do everything reasonably possible to eliminate worker exposure, including eliminating silica or substituting safer footing materials; using medium-coarse, washed sand rather than fine sand; using watering systems; and using dust-control products such as oils, waxes, salts, polymers and alkanes.
Review the WorkSafeBC Bulletin: Reducing the risk of exposure to crystalline silica dust for horse trainers and riding coaches.
For more information on creating an exposure control plan, please see WorkSafeBC.com.