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Core saws or drills

Using a core saw or drill (including rig-mounted and handheld core drilling) can generate respirable crystalline silica dust. When inhaled over time, the small particles of silica can irreversibly damage the lungs.

Exposure controls needed in accordance with Appendix 4 of the Managing respirable crystalline silica in construction and manufacturing of construction elements code of practice 2022 (PDF, 1.71 MB) (the Code) when using core saws or drills are explained below.

Step 1: Use suitable engineering controls

Wet cutting with a continuous water feed on the blade integrated to the machine

Wet cutting is an effective way to reduce the amount of silica dust when using a rig-mounted core saw or drill. Many types of core saws and drills come equipped with an integrated water delivery system that directs a continuous stream onto the blade/drill bit which wets the material being drilled and reduces the amount of dust generated. Water flow rates must be sufficient to minimise the release of visible dust.

A rig-mounted core saw or drill must be operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to minimise dust emissions.

  • Check hoses are securely connected and not cracked or broken.
  • Adjust nozzles so water goes to the blade and wets the cutting area.
  • Inspect the saw blade/drill bit to ensure it is in good condition and does not show excessive wear.
  • Maintain and operate the saw’s dust-control equipment based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean up slurry produced before it dries and releases silica dust into the air. Wet slurry can be cleaned up using shovels or a wet vacuum.

Step 2: Select appropriate respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

RPE is not required when wet cutting.

Further information