Stone countertops such as marble, granite or engineered stone that includes quartz and other components continue to be a popular choice for home improvement projects as well as by builders of commercial and residential properties. But there is a potential respiratory hazard facing stone countertop production facilities tasked with producing these slabs: silica.
When workers cut, grind, mix, demolish, polish or drill materials used in stone and engineered stone countertop fabrication they could be exposed to very small crystalline silica dust particles. Breathing in this airborne crystalline silica has been associated with adverse health effects, including silicosis (inflammation and scarring of the lungs that permanently reduces the ability to take in oxygen), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), decreased immune system and kidney disease.
Learn more about exposure to silica, the risks stone countertop fabrication workers are facing and important steps that can be taken to help protect them by reading this article in Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) magazine, “Reducing Silica Exposure Amongst Stone Countertop Workers” by Erik Johnson, CIH, CSP and Carly Engels Johnston at the 3M Personal Safety Division.
Silica exposure can be reduced when employers take the right steps to conform to regulatory standards. We encourage you to seek out assistance from our safety specialists to discuss what measures you can take for your job site, including selecting the appropriate respiratory protection that may be necessary to help protect your workers.
Read our article in OH&S Magazine here.