Fibre-cement board is a composite material made from cement, sand and cellulose fibres. Using a handheld power saw to cut fibre-cement board 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 handheld power saws for cutting fibre-cement sheeting (with a blade diameter of 8 inches/200 mm or less) are explained below.
Step 1: Use suitable engineering controls
Dust collection system
A dust collection system can be used to control dust when cutting fibre-cement board with a handheld power saw equipped with a blade of 8 inches (200mm) or less.
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) can comply by ensuring the dust collection system:
- includes a saw with a partially enclosed saw blade equipped with either an integrated dust collection port, or a commercially available adapter installed per the manufacturer’s directions.
- is operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- meets or exceeds the minimum air flow requirements recommended by the tool manufacturer and is rated to either M-Class or H-Class.
Step 2: Select appropriate respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
RPE is not required for the use of handheld saws (with a blade of 8 inches/200 mm or less) when cutting fibre-cement sheeting indoors or outdoors.