Silicosis prevention in engineered stone processing

According to the latest news reports, Australia is facing the worst occupational lung disease crisis since the asbestos disaster.

Mining is not the industry in question this time. The recent spike in silicosis cases in the country is connected with kitchen renovations. Stonemasons who cut engineered stone into a popular type of kitchen benchtop are contracting accelerated silicosis at alarming levels, after being exposed to unsafe levels of silica dust.

While there is a high percentage of silica in most building materials, engineered stone is particularly notorious. It can contain up to 90 per cent silica, much higher than the content in granite or marble. The considerable amount of dust is realised during cutting, drilling or blasting of engineered stone and without appropriate dust control workers’ health is compromised.

According to some reports in the past three financial years in Victoria there have been 16 silicosis claims by stonemasons, and in NSW there were 23 total silicosis claims, some by stonemasons. It is believed that this number will rise as more workers get tested for silicosis.

Prevention is key and Mideco’s Bat Booth™ has been designed specifically to help with silicosis prevention as it deals with even the smallest dust particles. This powerful personnel de-dusting device uses a curtain of compressed air to blow the dust off the staff’s uniform. Instead of just being misplaced the dust is captured and removed due to low air pressure that’s maintained in the cabin throughout the cleaning process. It takes 10 – 12 seconds to permanently remove up to 50% more dust then via other commonly used dedusting equipment.

Since its launch in 2014 Bath Booth™ has been helping businesses take care of their staff and environment in many locations in Australia and around the world.

It’s been generating plenty of interest at industry events locally and overseas. In Australia it won “Highly Commended” award in the category of “Best Practice in Work Health & Safety” at the “Australian Bulk Handling Award” in Sydney in 2016.

Overseas Bat Booth™ has been included in the Dust Control Handbook produced by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It was presented as one of the best examples of removing dust from personnel uniforms thus helping prevent dust related diseases, in particular those caused by silica exposure.

Bat Booth™ could be a powerful tool that can help contain the rising sad statistics of silicosis cases associated with engineered stone for kitchen benchtops.

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