With growing concern over the rise in reported respirable crystalline silica (RCS) related cases, Knauf is advocating for healthier work sites in building and construction.
In particular, high quartz content manufactured stone that is dry cut at high speed, producing respirable crystalline silica above the workplace exposure standard, is under the spotlight. While governments are targeting the stonemasonry industry, and specifically banning dry cutting techniques, the wording used in new legislation from the Victorian and Queensland governments implicates all processes and products which can generate RCS. This includes plasterboard and plaster-based products.
MINIMISING AIRBORNE RESPIRABLE DUST
As a manufacturer of plasterboards and jointing compounds, Knauf has a responsibility to support employee and contractor health and safety and reviews the products and services it provides to ensure they contribute to a safer work place.
Exposure in the plasterboard industry to crystalline silica content of raw materials comes from the use of gypsum and limestone. However, local sources of both are very pure, with low levels of crystalline silica content – typically less than 0.1 per cent.
The Safe Work Australia Permissible Exposure Limit for RCS is 100ug/m3 over an eight-hour work day. An employee’s level of risk is a combination of the type of material being handled and the manner of the activity being undertaken. The onsite preparation and installation of plasterboard does not exceed the permissible workplace exposure standard.
In addition, the Australian construction industry is adopting numerous safety practices to minimise exposure to airborne hazards, including vacuum assisted sanding tools and more effective dust masks with higher protection against airborne particulates.
WHAT WE’RE DOING TO MAKE WORKPLACES HEALTHIER
Knauf is committed to developing products that provide the industry with a safer working environment. This includes new jointing compounds and improvements in the development of water-resistant plasterboard.
Two USB Boral products in particular help to reduce respirable dust in construction workplaces.
SHEETROCK® Dust Control Finishing Compound
Respirable dust is generated in work places when jointed plasterboard walls and ceilings are sanded using hand or mechanical sanders. SHEETROCK® Dust Control joint finishing compound limits the pluming of sanded compound dust through air spaces. Technology contained in the product produces dust particles which fall directly to the wall or floor junction and react better to the vacuum of mechanical sanders. The result is far less airborne dust.
Knauf WETSTOP™ Plasterboard
Knauf WETSTOP is a suitable and time-saving alternative to fibre cement traditionally used in wet areas. With less waste and less dust, WETSTOP™ is a water-resistant plasterboard that does not require mechanical cutting – just score and snap. Using WETSTOP for wet areas has many other benefits including sound resistance to help reduce bathroom noise.