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Stationary masonry saws

Using a stationary masonry saw to cut bricks, concrete blocks, pavers, tiles 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 control options listed in 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 stationary masonry saws are explained below.

Step 1: Use suitable engineering controls

Engineering control options (one of the following three controls must be used)

  • Wet cutting with a continuous water feed on the blade integrated to the machine.
  • Use an integrated HEPA-filtered dust collection system which incorporate a filter cleaning mechanism.
  • Use a commercial dust collection system which:
    • meets or exceeds the minimum air flow requirements recommended by the tool manufacturer
    • is rated to either M-Class or H-Class.

Wet cutting

When using a stationary masonry saw, wet cutting with an integrated water delivery system that continuously feeds water to the blade is an effective way to reduce exposure to silica dust. Many stationary masonry saws come equipped with a water basin that holds several litres of water. A pump recirculates the water through a nozzle that directs a continuous stream onto the blade where it wets the material being cut and reduces the amount of dust generated.

The saw 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.
  • Ensure water flows at the rates recommended by the manufacturer. Water flow rates must be sufficient to minimize the release of visible dust.
  • Adjust nozzles so water goes to the blade and wets the cutting area.
  • Rinse or replace water filters at recommended intervals.
  • Replace basin water when it gets gritty or begins to silt up with dust.
  • Inspect the saw blade before use ensuring it is in good condition and does not show excessive wear.

Dust collection systems (dust extraction)

A dust collection system can be used to capture the dust generated by a stationary masonry saw. A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) can comply by using one of the following:

  • an integrated HEPA – filtered dust collection system which incorporates a filter clean mechanism
  • a commercially available dust collection system where the dust collector must provide the air flow recommended by the tool manufacturer, or greater, with a M or H-class rating (in accordance with AS/NZS 60335.2.69).

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 but is required if using dust extraction. 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 RPE not required RPE not required
Dust extraction Outdoors
P1 or P2 filtered RPE with a MPF 10 required
P1 or P2 filtered RPE with a MPF 10 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 (including the ones shown above), workers need to be fit-tested to the specific make and model or RPE before using it. See section 7.6 of the Code for more information on fit-testing and other requirements for using RPE.

Health monitoring

A PCBU must provide health monitoring to a worker if their tasks require them to wear RPE 30 times or more in 12 months. See section 10 of the Code (PDF, 1.71 MB) for more information on health monitoring requirements.

Further information