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Managing respirable crystalline silica

Dust containing respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is generated by high-energy processes such as cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, polishing, scabbling and crushing of silica-containing materials.

On this page:

For benchtop industry

Managing respirable crystalline silica in benchtop fabrication
Engineered and natural stone used for bench tops contains crystalline silica, also called quartz. Cutting, grinding and polishing natural or engineered stone generates respirable crystalline silica, which puts workers' health at risk. Engineered stone bench tops have a very high crystalline silica content, up to 95 per cent.

Safety alert: Immediate action required to prevent exposure to silica for engineered stone benchtop workers
Workers may be exposed to crystalline silica while cutting, grinding, sanding and polishing stone bench tops and during the installation process. Generally, exposure to RCS occurs during manufacture of the stone benchtop rather than during installation due to less cuts and fabrication taking place.

Silicosis in the engineered stone benchtop industry
WorkCover Queensland provides free health screening for current or former engineered stone benchtop workers in Queensland who have been exposed to engineered stone.

Installing stone bench tops(PDF, 329.09 KB)
Workers may be exposed to respirable crystalline silica when cutting, trimming, grinding or polishing stone during the installation of stone benchtops.

Silicosis and support for stonemasonary workers and employers
WorkCover is supporting stonemasons by ensuring they get immediate access to specialist medical diagnosis, treatment and ongoing rehabilitations and return to work services.

For construction industry

Construction dust: respirable crystalline silica
Dust containing respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is generated by high-energy processes such as cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, polishing, scabbling and crushing of silica-containing materials. Certain work processes can also create RCS exposure risks, including housekeeping activities involving dry sweeping, compressed air or blowers on silica-containing dusts.

For people with work-related respiratory diseases

Support for people with work-related respiratory diseases
Are you concerned that dust in the workplace may be causing coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath? WorkCover Queensland's dedicated team can help you lodge a claim or answer any questions you may have.

Related links

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland reports

External related links

Safe Work Australia guidance:

Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) Guidance:

HSE (UK) guidance:

Last updated
03 May 2019

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