Working with stone? You should read this

The HSE has been focusing very heavily on the hazards arising from stone cutting, in line with its increased emphasis on health issues in construction.

 As you may be aware, working with stone produces a fine dust known as Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) which, if drawn into the lungs, can cause silicosis, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  RCS is currently one of the HSE’s top priorities as it is produced from a range of construction activities including cutting blocks, bricks and tiles.

Worryingly, the risks from RCS, including its potentially fatal consequences, are not particularly well known, even within the construction industry itself.

Recently the HSE visited 60 companies which work with stone to examine whether effective RCS controls were in place. Unfortunately, inspectors found poor practices with serious breaches at 35 of the 60 locations. It resulted in four Prohibition Notices and 54 Improvement Notices being issued.

The initiative has led the HSE to identify four areas that the construction industry needs to focus on:

  • RCS dust itself
  • Storage and handling of stone
  • Machinery guarding
  • The maintenance of air compressors

 If you work with stone we recommend you review your arrangements in the areas highlighted to ensure they are adequate. If you require further advice, call Aegis on 01772 736522 or email