Dry Cutting of Engineered Stone – New Regulations in Force11-09-2019
Workers exposed to silica as respirable dust can develop disease including lung cancer and silicosis in a number of forms;
- Acute silicosis which occurs after a short exposure to very high levels of dust within a few weeks or years.
- Accelerated silicosis can occur after exposures of 3-10 years.
- Chronic silicosis which occurs after long term exposure.
As result of the very high number of silicosis cases resulting in illness and death within relatively short time frames due to workers cutting engineered stone in Australia, on the 20th August 2019 the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (Vic) 2017 were amended (Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2019) to require specific controls for work with engineered stone.
The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2019 put in place a number of requirements to ban uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone in order to reduce workers exposure to silica dust.
Risk Controls that should be put in place include;
- On tool water suppression
- Extraction systems
- Ensuring slurries are cleaned up and not allowed to dry out
- Correctly fitted respiratory equipment (not dust masks)
- Ensuring housekeeping doesn’t generate dust
Air monitoring must be carried out if employers are not sure if workers are exposed to silica dust above exposure standards, and should be used to check whether controls in place are adequate.
Health monitoring must be provided if exposure is likely to affect workers health. Stone bench top workshops should carry out health monitoring unless air monitoring is below 0.02mmg/m2 TWA
For more information requirements and the regulatory requirements see: