Exposure to Silicosis
Queensland recently issued a safety alert to highlight the significant health risks caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) for workers in engineered stone bench-top manufacturing, finishing and installation industries. Workers can be exposed to crystalline silica while cutting, grinding, sanding and polishing stone bench tops and during installation process.
Generally exposure to RCS occurs during manufacture of the stone bench-top rather than during installation due to less cuts and fabrication taking place. Having controlled measures in place will reduce exposure. Accumulated exposure to RCS can cause very serious and debilitating health effects, including silicosis.
The alert said recent compliance audits of engineered stone bench-top manufacturers conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland found multiple instances of workers being exposed to RCS. As a result:
- 5 prohibition notices were issued for activities involving exposure to workers, dry cutting, guarding and plant maintenance issues
- 23 improvement notices were issued for health monitoring, fit testing of respiratory protective equipment and inadequate dust control issues
Health monitoring of these workers has returned multiple positive silicosis diagnoses. SIA