NSCA Foundation

Victoria bans uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone

Monday, 26 August, 2019

Victoria bans uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone

Victoria’s ban on uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone has come into effect this month in a bid to better protect workers from silica dust exposure. According to WorkSafe Victoria, the state’s occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations now require workers to use water suppression or dust extraction devices, as well as respiratory protection equipment, when cutting, grinding or abrasive polishing engineered stone with power tools. Local exhaust ventilation must be used if it is not reasonably practicable to use water suppression or dust extraction.

Engineered stone can contain up to 95% crystalline silica, which, if inhaled, could cause silicosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, kidney damage and scleroderma, WorkSafe Victoria warned. People working with engineered stone products, such as stonemasons, face a high risk of exposure if the dust is not controlled. However, WorkSafe Victoria believes the new regulations will dramatically cut workers’ exposure to crystalline silica and subsequently, reduce their likelihood of developing associated diseases.

Employers, self-employed workers and those who are managing or in control of a workplace involved with engineered stone must make sure the required measures are in place and equipment is supplied. Plans for the ban were announced by the Victorian Government earlier this year as part of a larger scheme to prevent silicosis, which included a free health screening for the state’s 1400 stonemasons, a new compliance code for businesses working with silica and an awareness campaign to highlight the risks of working with engineered stone.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/jurewicz

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