There are new, interim occupational health and safety regulations in place to control risks associated with engineered stone, with a quantity of 80 per cent or greater of crystalline silica.
Crystalline silica is a natural mineral found in building materials, such as concrete, bricks, tiles, motor and engineered stone. The Cancer Council has released a fact sheet which we recommend to members as a good form of guidance. You can find the fact sheet here.
Part 4.5 – Crystalline Silica commenced on 20 August and ends on 19 August 2020. The Victorian government has responded appropriately to a health crisis, which has led to the risk of ‘aggressive silicosis’ and the re-emergence of silicosis as an occupational illness. The new regulation can be found here.
Trades where the issue is most prolific include stonemasonry, those involved in the manufacture and manipulation of engineered stone (now a common material for kitchen benchtops), work in quarries, tunnelling and mining.
Uncontrolled dry-cutting of engineered stone containing 80 per cent or more of crystalline silica (with the use of powered tools) is strictly prohibited.
For the purpose of these regulations, the use of a power tool is controlled if:
- It is used with an integrated water delivery system that supplies a continuous feed of water;
- It is used with a commercially available on-tool extraction system connected to a Dust Class- H Vacuum or other suitable system that captures the dust generated; or
- If the above are not reasonably practicable, the use of powered tools is used with a local exhaust ventilation; and
- The person who is cutting, grinding or undertaking abrasive polishing of engineered stone is provided with respiratory protective equipment.
Respiratory protective devices are those stipulated under AS / NZS 1716:2012 – Respiratory protective devices.
Members who require further support, advice and assistance are encouraged to speak with a member of Master Builders Victoria’s OHS team by calling (03) 9411 4569.