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Stone Fabrication | Fabricator

Respirable Silica is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, quartz, quartzite, porcelain, brick, block, granite and mortar. Crystalline silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in various types of rock, sand, and soil. When materials containing crystalline silica are processed or disturbed through activities such as cutting, grinding, drilling, or crushing, respirable silica dust can be generated.

As any stone fabricator should know, the health and safety of their employees are relied upon by the measures and practices followed within that masonry shop. Following goverment regulation such as the ones set forth by OSHA, NIOSH, DIR , CAL/OSHA, and the CDC can be crucial to control respirable silica.

What stone fabrication shops should avoid at all cost is: Dry Cutting, Grinding Or Polishing.

Controlling respirable silica exposure during quartz cutting is crucial for safeguarding the health and safety of workers. Here's a detailed guide on how to achieve this:

  1. Use Wet Cutting Methods: Utilize wet cutting techniques whenever possible. This involves continuously applying water to the cutting surface during the quartz cutting process. Wet cutting helps to suppress dust and prevents respirable silica particles from becoming airborne.

  2. Install Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV): Implement local exhaust ventilation systems to capture and remove silica-containing dust at the point of generation. These systems typically consist of hoods, ducts, and fans that draw dust away from the cutting area and into a filtration or collection system.

  3. Choose Proper Cutting Tools: Select cutting tools specifically designed for quartz fabrication. Diamond blades are often recommended for cutting quartz due to their ability to minimize dust generation and produce clean, precise cuts.

  4. Maintain Equipment Regularly: Ensure that cutting equipment, including saws and blades, is properly maintained and in good working condition. Regular maintenance helps to optimize performance and minimize the generation of respirable silica dust.

  5. Use Enclosures or Containment: Enclose cutting equipment within designated work areas or containment structures to further contain dust and prevent it from dispersing into the surrounding environment.

  6. Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Despite implementing engineering controls, it's essential to provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment, such as respirators, to further minimize exposure to respirable silica dust. Respirators should be selected based on the specific silica exposure levels and hazards present in the work environment.

  7. Implement Administrative Controls: Establish work practices and procedures that minimize dust generation and exposure. This may include scheduling cutting operations during times when fewer workers are present, providing adequate breaks to allow for dust clearance, and implementing regular cleaning protocols to remove accumulated dust.

  8. Training and Education: Ensure that all workers involved in quartz cutting receive comprehensive training on the hazards of respirable silica exposure and the proper use of control measures. Training should cover topics such as the importance of wet cutting, the correct use of PPE, and the procedures for operating and maintaining cutting equipment safely.

By implementing these measures and integrating them into a comprehensive silica control program, employers can effectively mitigate the risks associated with respirable silica exposure during operations. Regular monitoring of silica levels and periodic reassessment of control measures are also essential to ensure ongoing effectiveness and compliance with regulatory standards. Recognizing the significant risks associated with exposure to respirable crystalline silica, as outlined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), we are committed to implementing measures to mitigate these hazards. OSHA and NIOSH have established stringent regulations and guidelines to address the dangers posed by silica-containing materials, including quarried stone like granite and quartz surface products. In alignment with these standards, we advocate for thorough adherence to safety protocols throughout the fabrication, finishing, and installation processes. We urge anyone in the stone fabrication and installation industry to familiarize themselves with the pertinent resources concerning safety practices and OSHA regulations. These resources cover essential topics such as dust control methods (e.g., wet cutting), air quality monitoring, employee training, and the utilization of respiratory protective equipment.


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