Acute Silicosis - What You Need to Know

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Silica Dust

In Australia there have been approximately 106 cases of acute silicosis (including 2 fatalities) caused by breathing in dust created by the cutting and grinding of engineered stone benches.  The benches contain up to 97% quartz (crystalline silica).  When they are cut and ground huge amounts of silica become airborne which is breathed in by the workers. 

Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in respirable crystalline silica (RCS) at high concentrations.  Silicosis results in the formation of scar tissue in the lung resulting in loss of lung function, and may eventually cause lung cancer, progressive massive fibrosis, and death.

New Zealand also uses engineered stone and there is concern that workers here are also being exposed to crystalline silica and could therefore develop acute silicosis. 

For further information see the Worksafe bulletin https://worksafe.govt.nz/about-us/news-and-media/accelerated-silicosis/ .  If you or your team handle, cut, grind, or use engineered stone you need to understand the risks and control exposure to keep your people healthy.  Chemsafety can assist with a hazard assessment and exposure monitoring so you can ensure you are controlling this hazard properly.