JSA Stone Australia

Silicosis Guidelines For Fabricators Only

What is Silica and quartz?

Silica is one of the most common compounds on earth. Silica is composed of two elements: silicon and oxygen (silicon dioxide, SiO2).

JSA STONE surfaces are made of minerals that include crystalline silica, such as silica sand and quartz.

Crystalline Silica is one of the most common compounds on earth and can be found in nature in various forms, mainly as sand, and also as rocks and stones such as marble, granite, quartz and cristobalite.

Crystalline Silica is a component of many manufactured products in daily use, such as glass, pottery and quartz surfaces.

Silica is very commonly used in construction and at various concentrations in bricks, blocks, tiles, slabs, cement and concrete.

What industries work with silica and are exposed to Silica dust?

It is important to point out that silica dust is found in many products in our day-to-day lives such as glass, ceramics, semi-conductors and much more.

Working with crystalline silica (quartz) is found in numerous industries including:

  • Underground mining, tunnelling and excavation work
  • Extraction and cutting of quartzite, gneiss, granite, sandstone and slate
  • Foundries
  • Glass manufacturing plants
  • Brick making
  • Manufacture of glass, pottery, porcelain, bricks, ceramic tiles, pavers
  • Underground mining, tunnelling and excavation work
  • Road building
  • Building construction
  • Demolition work where potential sites of silica exist e.g. breaking up concrete
  • Explosive blasting work

In lung tissue, causing inflammation and scarring, reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Safety measures such as wet cutting and the use of effective respiratory protection measures reduce the risks associated with inhaled dust and can prevent the disease. The finished Caesarstone product poses no health hazard.

As a result, unprotected and uncontrolled occupational exposure and inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles without the protective health and safety measures required by law, is dangerous to health and may cause severe illnesses such as silicosis, which is characterized by fibrosis of the lungs. Silicosis is a chronic, incurable, progressive disease, which may cause severe physical disabilities and may be fatal. According to the US OSHA alert of February 2015, exposure to airborne crystalline silica increases the risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease, and according to certain medical schools of thought, also increases the risk for some auto-immune diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis). Pre-existing physical disorders may also aggravate the adverse effects of exposure to silica dust.

WHAT IS SILICOSIS?

Silicosis is an occupational disease, known for over a century, which may affect workers in the stone fabrication industry if they process marble, granite, quartz surfaces and other natural stones without safety measures. In the quartz surfaces industry, this disease may affect the Fabrication Process workers themselves, and any other person who is present at the Fabrication Process facilities (where there is silica dust) on a regular basis.

CAN CRYSTALLINE SILICA DUST HAZARDS BE PREVENTED?

Yes. Exposure to crystalline silica dust and the related risks that may result from such exposure can be reduced and controlled if the proper safety measures are implemented. These measures include, among others, installing proper engineering controls (ventilation and filtration), working with CNC machines and water-injected tools, and using appropriate respiratory protection.

You must assess and ensure that occupational exposure to airborne crystalline silica dust is below the Permissible Exposure Limits established by your local authority and regulations. Always apply your local laws and regulations regarding working in environments containing harmful dust.

In order to control and reduce/eliminate the health risks associated with crystalline silica, we recommend that a Silica Control Programme be implemented in the workplace in accordance with all the applicable laws, regulations, orders and directives. This programme should be reviewed on a regular basis.

It is important to note that the exposure and personal protection precautions are only necessary for the fabrication of Caesarstone products (cutting, sawing, polishing etc.), due to the dust that may be generated in the process, and not from the Caesarstone slab as a product.

The employer is responsible for providing his workers with all the information, tools and safety measures required in order to protect them from the dangers of exposure to silica dust. The workers are responsible for fully implementing the safety instructions. Access to the work area should be restricted to authorized employees only. By a joint effort of the employer and workers, the workplace can become a healthy environment for everyone.

WHAT RECOMMENDATION DOES JSA OFFER TO ENSURE SAFE WORKING PRACTICES?

If you work with silica and the fabrication of engineered quartz surfaces, please download and read the following guide:

JSA FABRICATION AND HEALTH PROTECTION GUIDE

The objectives of this Guide are to:

  • Reiterate the information about the well-known risks and health hazards during working in an environment where respirable crystalline silica dust is created; and
  • Remind you of certain information to assist in reducing workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust, including information on the safe use of products containing crystalline silica in the workplace and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that can be used, if necessary.

Furthermore, the instructions in this Guide are addressed to employers and workers who fabricate JSA Stone slabs and derived products in order to help them control their exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust.

It is important to note that the information provided in this Guide does not replace and/or specify all your local laws and regulations, which you must comply with and, therefore, you are required to be familiar with and adhere to all your local laws and regulations and consult with occupational health and safety professionals.