Important Legislation Updates

Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2019.

What are the changes to the regulations?

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) have been amended to provide greater protection to Victorian employees working with engineered stone. They now prohibit uncontrolled cutting, grinding and abrasive polishing of engineered stone with power tools.

The amendments come into effect on 20 August 2019.

What is considered engineered stone?

The amended regulations define engineered stone as manufactured composite stone that contains resins and has a crystalline silica content of at least 80 per cent. Engineered stone is commonly used as kitchen, bathroom and laundry bench-tops. To find out how much crystalline silica is in a product check the safety data sheet or other information from the supplier.

What does the ban mean?

Under the amended regulations, an employer, self-employed person or person who manages or controls a workplace must ensure a power tool is not used to cut, grind or abrasively polish engineered stone, unless the tool:

  • has an integrated water delivery system that supplies a continuous feed of water (on-tool water suppression), or

  • is fitted with on-tool extraction attached to a HEPA filtered dust class H vacuum cleaner (or similar system that captures the dust generated).

If these controls are not reasonably practicable, the use of power tools must be controlled through local exhaust ventilation (LEV).

It also means that people cutting, grinding or polishing engineered stone with a power tool must be provided with respiratory protective equipment that:

  • is designed to protect the wearer from the inhalation of airborne contaminants entering the nose, mouth and lung

  • complies with AS/NZS 1716 – Respiratory protective devices.

All controls must be properly designed, installed, used and maintained so they stay effective at reducing exposure to crystalline silica dust.

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