Blog- The Dangers of Working with Stones
Several case studies have revealed the physical health dangers correlated with stone work. Kevin and Tony Winter, two brothers from County Durham, experienced the lung disease, silicosis, after working 72 years as quarry workers (https://www.hse.gov.uk/lung-disease/kevin-tony-winter.htm). Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are also prevalent risks when working around large amounts of dust. According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, the damage from dust exposure is dependent on many factors including the type of tool used, the organization of the workplace, the type of stone being used, the length of time spent working with the tool, and the effectiveness of safety masks and extraction systems.
To ensure the safety of employees and anyone in a nearby proximity that may be affected by dust exposure, stone working environments need to be assessed, controlled, and properly organized to ensure transparency of the risks and dangers of dust exposure. One assessment that will allow employers to control dust exposure is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). This proper control can be accomplished using wet techniques for cutting, grinding or blasting, organizing dusty machinery into a separate area, vacuuming regularly, controlling waste by using closed bags and ensuring wet waste is thrown before drying, using effective local exhaust ventilation, and simply keeping machines clean (https://www.hse.gov.uk/copd/toptips.htm). By investing in these simple, but crucial, measures and providing employees with adequate safety attire, adverse health effects may be mitigated.