Safety alert on risks caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica released


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland released a safety alert to highlight the risks caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) for workers in engineered stone benchtop manufacturing, finishing and installation industries.

The agency warns that workers may be exposed to crystalline silica while cutting, grinding sanding and polishing stone bench tops and during the installation process.

Those who are installing stone benchtops which have been completely fabricated in a workshop and needs no additional cutting or fabrication on site should have minimal exposure to RCS than workers involved in fabrication.

“Employers in industries which fabricate or install stone benchtops must immediately ensure they are complying with their duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to have adequate dust controls in place. Failure to do so will result in enforcement action being taken,” Queensland’s safety regulator said in its safety alert.

“Accumulated exposure to RCS can cause very serious and debilitating health effects, including silicosis. Note that RCS is smaller than dust which can be seen. It is only tiny dust particles which can get deep into the lungs, called the respirable dust, which is of concern.”

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland says persons conducting a business or undertaking should not allow uncontrolled dry cutting, grinding or polishing of artificial, engineered stone bench tops. It also reminded PCBUs to provide health monitoring to workers where there is significant risk to a worker’s health due to exposure  to respirable crystalline silica.

More information about this safety alert is available on Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s website.

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