Over the past five years, there has been an average of nine reported cases of silicosis a year in NSW and workers in the manufactured stone industry are among those at risk.
This industry uses newer engineered stone products which contain high levels of crystalline silica, for bathroom and kitchen benchtops. Crystalline silica, which causes the lung disease silicosis, is also found in bricks, roof tiles and concrete products.
When disturbed by cutting, sanding, blasting or grinding, crystalline silica dust is released and can get into a worker’s lungs.
The disease is entirely preventable.
Effective and well maintained ventilation and dust capture systems on portable tools, wetting down stone whilst cutting, using the correct face masks, and never using compressed air to clean-up dust helps to control dust and reduce exposure.
You should also do regular air monitoring to make sure workers’ exposures do not exceed the legal exposure limit for crystalline silica dust, and offer health checks which includes lung screening to your workers.