Uncontrolled cutting of engineered stone banned in Victoria

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Last week WorkSafe announced immediate changes to the Victorian OHS regulations relating to cutting, grinding and polishing engineered stone with power tools.

Under the new regulations – which are already in effect – anyone cutting engineered stone with a power tool must ensure it is fitted with either an:

  • Integrated water delivery system (on-tool water suppression) that supplies a continuous feed of water. Using a hose or other handheld device to direct water to the cutting point isn’t acceptable – an integrated delivery system needs to be interlocked with the power tool.
  • On-tool dust extractor that is attached to a HEPA filtered dust class H vacuum cleaner (or similar). There is an allowance for using an alternative extraction system, providing it effectively captures the dust directly at the source and does not expose anyone to the dust.

In addition, anyone cutting, grinding or polishing engineered stone with a power tool needs to be provided with:

  • Protective respiratory equipment that is designed to protect them from inhaling the dust and complies with AS/NZS 176
  • Health monitoring, unless you have data to prove that average silica dust exposure is less that 0.02 mg/m3 airborne concentration, over 8 hours.

For more information about these amendments visit https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/changes-protect-victorians-working-engineered-stone

What does it mean for stonemasons and tilers?

The good news is that for most in the stone and tile industry implementing these changes at a practical level should be relatively straight-forward. However, the other piece of the puzzle in regard to complying is ensuring all of your safety procedures and documentation is in line with the new regulations.

With silica dust being labelled the ‘next asbestos’ we know that scrutiny on the industry is only going to intensify. There will be more WorkSafe inspections, Unions will maintain focus on the issue and your clients will be wanting to make sure you’re doing the right thing, and have the documentation to prove it.

If you would like to more information or advice about how you can ensure your business complies email info@riskstrategies.com.au or call us on 03 9863 8404.

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