Stoneworkers can suffer ill health and disease caused by Respirable Crystaline Silica (RCS)in the stone dust that they breathe in. These include silicosis, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For more information on the ill heath effects look at the HSE web pages on Lung disease.
The amount of dust you are exposed to depends on a numbers of factors including:
- the type of stone you are working (including both natural and artificial/engineered stone);
- the type of tool you are using and whether it is a powered or hand held tool
- how long you are working with the tool;
- how well you are using any extraction system (local exhaust ventilation);
- the effectiveness of your mask (respiratory protective equipment);
- how your workshop is organised (including segregation of dusty activities and housekeeping arrangements).
There is a clear requirement under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) for employers to assess and control the risks from stone dust exposure.
Guidance on controls for specific tasks can be found in COSHH Essentials for Stonemasons.
In addition, where there is a reasonable risk of workers developing silicosis, health surveillance is required. Guidance is available in Health surveillance for those exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) G404.