A ban on the uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone by WorkSafe Victoria has come into place to help mitigate the damage workers face when exposed to deadly silica dust.
The State’s new OHS regulations now require on-tool water suppression, dust extraction devices, and respiratory protection when cutting, grinding, or abrasive polishing engineered stone with power tools.
Under circumstances where the use of water suppression or dust extraction is not reasonably practicable, local exhaust ventilation must be used.
Engineered stone (also known as reconstituted stone) can be composed of up to 95% crystalline silica, a hazardous substance when inhaled.
When engineered stone products are processed, they release a fine dust called Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS). Significant exposure to RCS can cause significant lung damage, and diseases including silicosis and lung cancer.
As a result, if RCS is not properly controlled or mitigated, workers handling engineered stone can face a high risk of lung damage.
WorkSafe’s new regulations aim to ensure that workers who are involved in processing engineered stone have limiting exposure to RCS. This means all employers and now responsible for ensuring that the new required measures are in place around the worksite.
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