Here at Slabworks we take the health and wellbeing of our employees very seriously. We couldn’t be the company we are today without their hard work, which is why we believe it’s our responsibility to provide a workplace free from hazards. One such hazard is the damaging affects of inhaling dangerous amounts silica dust from cutting engineered stone. We have taking great steps in controlling the dust at our facilities, which is why we were recently featured in an article for NPR.
40%-50% of our business is engineered stone, which contains high amounts of silica. When the stone is cut that dust can end up everywhere, including factory workers’ lungs. The damage it causes is irreversible and often deadly, which is why we’ve always operated as a wet-shop. Using water to contain the dust is a safe way to keep it out of the air. However, as owner David Scott points out in the the article, it wasn’t enough:
“We were a wet shop at that time, and we were still marginal,” he says.Greedfieldboyce, N. (2019, October 2). Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/10/02/766028237/workers-are-falling-ill-even-dying-after-making-kitchen-countertops
Part of the problem was that water with silica dust would end up on the floor, he explains, and some of the water would evaporate before going down the drain.
“If you came in in the morning, you would see a white residue on our floor, and that was the dust,” says Scott. “So the first thing we did was bring in a floor scrubber. We call it our Zamboni.”
Our ‘Zamboni’ scrubs and vacuums up the water, which has reduced the silica load in the air substantially. We’ve also added an air handling system to remove as much dust as possible. Our silica levels are now almost undetectable and our employees are safe.
As an accredited member of the Natural Stone Institute we are always learning and implementing new ways to safely cut our stone. Support stone worker by choosing an accredited company for your next project. Contact us here to learn more.