Monday, January 26, 2009

UK Zones in on Silicosis at Small Businesses

The UK Government recently launched a new campaign to better educate small businesses on the harmful effects of silicosis.

Many small contractors are still unaware of the dangers of silica dust, the Health and Safety Executive has warned. Dr Robert Ellis – from the regulator's chemicals risk management unit, which is leading the HSE's "Clean the Air" campaign – said despite a marked increase in awareness of silicosis across big business, he found smaller firms were often still uninformed.

The campaign will rely primarily on over 200,000 leaflets and 3,000 DVDs to help inform contractors, especially small construction companies, of the dangers of inhaling crystalline dust. Still, many British public health professionals worry about the effectiveness of such a campaign stating that smaller companies tend to get lost in the shuffle and usually lack the infrastructure that larger companies have to get the information out.

In most developing countries, this challenge is even greater. India in particular is seeing most of its economic growth from SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). The success of this campaign could provide a good model for a similar education campaign in developing countries despite there being substantial differences between the two economies.

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