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    Science of Safety Podcast: Episode 77.

    May 28, 2020
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    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 77:
    Engineered stone & silica - Part 1.

    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 77:
    Engineered stone & silica - Part 1.

    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 77:
    Engineered stone & silica - Part 1.

    In this episode, Carolyn Topping, Acting Director of the Occupational Health and Hygiene Unit within Workplace Health and Safety Queensland joins host Mark Reggers for the first of a two-part series to discuss engineered stone and silica.

    In recent years there has been much discussion surrounding engineered stone benchtops causing a resurgence in silicosis, a fatal and life-debilitating lung disease, amongst workers in the benchtop manufacturing, finishing and installation industries. Silica, one of the most common minerals on the planet found in both engineered and natural stone is an occupational hazard for those working with stone countertops due to their exposure to large volumes of toxic airborne silica.

      

             

        

    Guest Bio:

    Carolyn Topping (pictured left) is the Acting Director of the Occupational Health and Hygiene Unit within Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

    She is a workplace health and safety inspector and a Certified Occupational Hygienist. Carolyn has worked for Queensland government safety regulators for twenty years including the Office of Industrial Relations and Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

    Her team is leading significant interventions in occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica in Queensland.

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    In this episode, Mark & Carolyn discuss the following:

     
    • There has been a lot of focus recently from the various regulators on the engineered stone industry, why is this the case?
    • How much silica is found in engineered stone compared to other common silica-containing materials?
    • What is silicosis and are there different types?
    • What is the current exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica and does this change if workplaces have shifts longer than 8 hours?
    • How would a workplace determine what their workers’ exposure may be compared to the exposure standard, and how do they assess if their controls are effective?
    • How many samples should a workplace get taken to determine their workers’ exposures and the effectiveness of controls?
    • What role or tasks commonly undertaken in these workshops would have the most risk of exposure to silica?
    • Are workers installing the benchtops in a property at risk?
    • Has WHSQ performed any exposure monitoring, and what did you find in your investigations? What was the range of exposures for the high-risk workers/tasks monitored?
    • Dry cutting was a common practice in this industry, is this still allowed?
    • What is a respirable crystalline silica dust control plan? Is it mandatory for engineered stone fabricators?
    • How can these workplaces start identifying respirable dust hazards in their workplace?
    • What take away points would you want to leave with our listeners?
    • Where can the listeners go to get further information and guidance material to protect workers in relation to the areas we have discussed?
    • How can our listeners get in contact with yourself and WHSQ?

    Silicosis, a grave and fatal condition that has no cure, is a growing concern for engineered stone benchtop workers. Fabricating and installing natural and artificial stone benchtops releases high levels of respirable crystalline silica through the cutting, grinding and polishing processes, that if inhaled, can cause severe short and long term respiratory diseases. Tune in as we look at the risks faced by this industry working with engineered stone that can contain up to 95% silica, along with the control measures and respiratory protection required to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

     

    Additional Resources:

    Contact a 3M Safety Specialist at scienceofsafetyanz@mmm.com for more information.