Amendments to the COSHH Act and the ban of silica sand used in abrasive blasting

Blast operator outside in full PPE sitting on top of processed steel.

Blasting with silica sand in the UK was banned in 1949. Still, it wasn’t until 1999 that the COSHH act was updated to clearly define and expressly prohibit the use of silica sand for blasting purposes to protect those at risk of inhaling silica and ensure the protection of the environment. COSHH defines silica sand as any abrasive media where the concentration of silica present exceeds 1%. As a result, in countries that have banned silica sand, sandblasting is now known as grit or abrasive blasting (despite the phrase remaining as a common term).