Understanding Silicosis: What It Is and How It's Caused
Silicosis is a serious lung disease caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust. Recently, concerns have been raised by the mainstream media about the potential risk of developing silicosis from using engineered stone in the manufacturing process. It is important to note that exposure to crystalline silica dust is a concern not only for engineered stone but also for other common materials used in the construction industry.
Silica is found in various materials like sandstone, cement, mortar, granite, and slate, and given its prolific occurrence, it is impossible to completely ban its use. Therefore, key unions are calling for a federalised approach based on Victoria's legislation, which requires products to have reduced silica (less than 40%) and strict controls and certification for the manufacture, supply, and installation of silica-based products. The certification requirements become more stringent for products over 40%.
Our Partnership with Cosentino: A Commitment to Quality and Safety
At Hall & Hart, we've been recommending and using Cosentino as our primary supplier for stone and engineered stone products for almost four years. Cosentino has recently invested up to $500 million Euros to develop a range of products with much-reduced silica content. As a result, they are the only supplier in Australia where their full range of products is below 40% silica, with some products as low as 2% or zero in the case of Dekton.
We want to assure our valued clients that we work closely with our suppliers to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to mitigate the risks associated with the manufacture, supply, and installation of engineered stone benchtops. Our supplier, House of Stone, has been aware of these risks since their foundation and has taken them seriously since then.
Safety Measures in the Manufacturing of Engineered Stone: Protecting Workers from Silicosis
House of Stone have implemented several measures to ensure the safety of their staff, including:
providing monthly training to all staff on the correct procedures when dealing with engineered stone
providing all necessary equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff
sending all staff members for annual lung testing at I CARE in Sydney
providing showers for staff to use before leaving the factory
using water for all cutting and polishing processes to eliminate dry dust
installing a waterwall that pushes air-born particles toward the wall and cycles them back through a filtration system
implementing a check-measure process to ensure that the majority of cutting is done off-site, and any on-site trimming is performed using an M3 Vacuum (which is approved by SafeWork) in conjunction with masks and glasses.
Cosentino Addresses the Australian Market
In light of recent concern in news media regarding engineered stone products, Cosentino, one of
the world’s leading manufacturers of luxury mineral surface products, is communicating its position with the Australian design, lifestyle, and consumer market.
Over the last 10 years, Cosentino has undertaken comprehensive research and development programs to substantially reduce the crystalline silica content of its Silestone® products, to contribute to the limitation of exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica . Engineered stone products originally had up to 95% silica in their manufacture.
Cosentino’s market leading Silestone® Q10 and Q40 products contain less than 10% and 40% crystalline silica respectively, which have been independently verified by a Perth-based laboratory, SGS. These verification documents can be provided on request.
HybriQ Technology® has been Cosentino’s strategic response to the demand for sustainability and
responsibility from products and brands globally.
Utilising a sustainable manufacturing process that uses 99% reused water,100% renewable energy,
zero waste water , Cosentino’s HybriQ Technology® is employed across its entire Silestone® range.
Providing a low silica product that can deliver high performance and durability has been at the core of Cosentino’s development work.
The Silestone® low silica entire range is available in Australia now, reassuring Australian value chain of the continued safe supply of their products.
Empathetic to the health and safety concerns of industry around engineered stone, Cosentino has
been working tirelessly with industry to educate on best safety practices.
Cosentino’s VP Oceania, Itay Shimony said, “We support the development of a nationally
coordinated approach focussed on the elimination (so far as is reasonably practicable) of health and safety risks associated with high-risk crystalline silica work. To this end we encourage the national adoption of the Victorian definition of 'engineered stone' as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2021 being, "manufactured composite stone material that contains resins and 40% or more crystalline silica.”
“Providing a low silica alternative that continues to deliver high performance and durability is at the heart of Cosentino’s entire ranges, providing Australian consumers with a positive choice,” Mr Shimony added. To read Cosentino’s statement on Silestone®, or for more information, visit: www.cosentino.com/en-au/news/
How Hall & Hart Can Assist with Selections and Concerns
It is highly unlikely that engineered stone products will be banned outright. In the event that the Victorian legislation regarding silica content in construction materials is nationalised, our standard Cosentino supplied products and recommended ranges already adhere to these regulations. This means that you can choose from these ranges with peace of mind, knowing that our products meet industry standards for safety.
At Hall & Hart we are here to support you and address any questions or concerns you may have. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you need any assistance or clarification on our product offering.
A Team Dedicated to Delivering
Exceptional house design and construction are at the heart of what we do and something our team is dedicated to delivering on every day.
Our team has shaped our award-winning luxury home design and building business into what it is today. Integrity rich, self-motivated and ambitious, their focus lives in achieving our objective of making a difference to the experience our clients receive and the home they are ultimately delivered. They appreciate and support each members skills and ensure the right specialist is engaged at the right time or bring all together to solve any challenges that arise, with a focus of achieving the best possible outcome together.
An intricate assembly of details and expertise, where very position is valued and every person adds value.