The deadly dust disease silicosis has received increased attention in recent years. Many stonemasons have already contracted the condition, with health authorities moving to take action and ban practices that could cause the disease, such as the dry cutting of manufactured stone used in countertops. States are engaging in an effort to make these changes to laws before more lives are lost.
Multiple Australian states are putting regulations on the books to protect tradespeople tasked with cutting stone. According to The Telegraph, experts around thew world have recently come to the same conclusion after the publication studies such as one carried out on stone cutters in Spain. The research revealed that sawing through quartz has exposed these workers to silica dust, the root cause of silicosis.
The Telegraph reported that U.S. doctors Robert Cohen and Leonard Go of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health have urged health bodies to ponder a ban on manufactured stone. Considering the risks associated with silica dust, the researchers feel the danger is not worth using the popular countertop materials in homes.
The U.K. Health and Safety Executive has stated that employers must limit the risk to their workers. Precautions around cutting stone involve using respiration protection and cutting the stone in an area with sufficient ventilation. Regulation has already progressed beyond this level in some Australian states.
Bans on dry cutting of stone represent one way to prevent companies from exposing their employees to high concentrations of silica. As The Age reported, Victoria has already implemented a prohibition on cutting all materials that contain silica dust without wetting the surface. When quartz and other artificial stone surfaces are treated with water before they are cut, they give off less of the potentially deadly substance.
The news provider repeated a doctor's warning that with more homes containing benchtops made of manufactured stone, there is a real risk of silicosis affecting more people than ever before, making regulation an urgent matter. Indeed, Dr. Ryan Hoy told The Age 50% of kitchen and bathroom benchtops around the country are high in silica. Now, companies in Victoria that require their employees to dry-cut artificial stone will face penalties. The government reports there are 300 workplaces at high risk for silicosis.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a respiratory illness contracted in the workplace, you may be able to bring a claim – reach out to the experts at Gerard Malouf and Partners by phone at 1800 004 878 or directly by email to learn more.