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Drivable saws

Using a drivable saw to cut masonry, concrete, stone or other silica-containing materials can generate respirable crystalline silica dust. When inhaled over time, the small particles of silica dust can irreversibly damage the lungs.

Exposure controls needed as per appendix 4 of the Managing respirable crystalline silica in construction and manufacturing of construction elements code of practice 2022 (PDF, 1.71 MB) when using drivable saws 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 uses an integrated water delivery system that directs a continuous stream of water onto the blade which wets the materials being cut and reduces the amount of dust generated. These saws have built-in water tanks, or water is supplied to the saw from a source such as a hose connected to a tap or portable tank. Water flow rates must be sufficient to minimise the release of visible dust.

The saw must be operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to minimise dust.

  • 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 to be sure it is in good condition and does not show excessive wear.
  • Maintain and operate the saw’s dust-control equipment per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean up slurry produced during wet cutting 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)

The type of RPE you will need depends on:

  • what type of engineering controls you are using
  • how long the worker is going to do the task during the shift
  • where the work is being undertaken.

RPE is not required when wet cutting outdoors but is required indoors or in enclosed areas.

Half-face reusable or disposable RPE has a minimum protection factor (MPF) of 10.

Engineering control used Time spent doing task during shift
Equal or less than 4 hours Greater than 4 hours
Wet cutting Outdoors
RPE not required
RPE not required
Indoors / enclosed area
P1 or P2 filtered RPE with a MPF 10 required
Indoors / enclosed area
P1 or P2 filtered RPE with a MPF 10 required

For tight-fitting RPE workers need to be fit-tested to the specific make and model before using it. See section 7.6 of the Code (PDF, 1.71 MB) for more information on fit-testing and other requirements for using RPE.

Health monitoring

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must provide health monitoring to a worker if their tasks require them to wear RPE 30 times or more in 12 months.

Further information