Countertop fabricators play a critical role in the construction industry, particularly in the fabrication and installation of stone countertops. However, it’s also important to recognise the potential hazards and risks of the job, particularly the production of dust and particulates. The fabshop is a hazardous place, not least because of the dangers of inhaling dust and foreign stuff that really has no place in a person’s lungs.
Which is exactly why we’re going to look at dust and particulate monitoring for the stone industry, particularly countertop fabrication.
Why are fabricators so important?
Countertop fabricators are the key to exceptional kitchen and bathroom designs.
Without your skills, the industry would not be able to create the unique looks and styles that are in such high demand today.
However, the process of transforming slabs of granite, marble, quartz and other natural, engineered or sintered stones into stunning countertops exposes you and your co-workers to an array of risks, hazards and dangers.
One of the most significant of them is the production of dust and particulate matter.
The creation of airborne dust from the cutting, grinding, and polishing of stone can harm workers, damage equipment, and contaminate the surrounding environment. It causes significant health problems and can lead to numerous respiratory diseases.
That’s where dust monitoring in countertop fabrication comes in – it’s vital to ensure the health, safety and well-being of workers as well as quality control and responsible environmental practices.
What is dust monitoring?
At its core, dust and particulate monitoring involves measuring the levels of airborne particles in a given environment.
When it comes to the stone countertop industry, dust monitoring in countertop fabrication can take several different forms. For example, real-time monitoring can be done with the use of monitors or other equipment that continuously measure dust levels in the air.
Alternatively, regular air quality testing can be done to provide detailed data on the levels of particulate matter.
Why is dust monitoring so important?
One of the key reasons that dust and particulate monitoring is so important for the stone countertop industry is the potential health risks to workers.
The industry is increasingly aware of the long term risks to life posed by silica dust.
This is because of the prevalence of engineered stone across the global countertop industry.
A career spent exposed to this crystalline horror can cause a range of respiratory illnesses in later life. Increasingly well known is silicosis, a potentially fatal lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to silica dust.
Slow to show symptoms, by which time it’s far too late, it’s no wonder that exposure to silica dust is right at the top of the hit-list for many national and state health inspectorates, not least OSHA in the US, the HSE in the UK and the Centre for Work Health and Safety in NSW, Australia.
And now that there is an accurate and readily available device that monitors silica levels in real-time, there are few excuses not to be more proactive.
That being said, the biggest excuse or kickback is the usual one…
Because an Air XS real-time silica monitor from Trolex – available to the stone industry through Stone Industry Group – certainly isn’t cheap.
So what’s the answer?
Let’s look at this from another angle.
We can all agree that inhaling silica is stupendously bad for us, right?
And it’s the crystalline silica content in the airborne dust that we generate every single day…
So if we can’t perhaps quite afford the investment in a cutting-edge device that specifically monitors the silica content in our dust…
Why don’t we at least just monitor the general dust and particulate instead?
Because if it’s the stone dust that’s the problem, we could at least be accurately monitoring our exposure to all particulates, right?
Dust and particulate monitoring can help to ensure that workers are not exposed to excessive amounts of airborne particles, helping to prevent long-term health problems from developing.
Care for your workers, your equipment and your environment
Remember that monitoring your dust levels can also help to prevent damage to equipment.
As dust and particulate matter accumulates on machinery and tools, it can reduce their efficiency and even cause them to break down. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s still true.
This ends up with costly repairs or replacements, negatively impacting the bottom line for countertop fabricators.
By monitoring dust and particle levels, fabricators can take steps to prevent excessive buildup on machinery, keeping it running smoothly and reducing maintenance costs.
Responsible environmental practices are also another key reason for dust and particulate monitoring.
Waste and dust generated from the stone cutting and finishing process can spread throughout the factory and onto neighbouring properties, causing harm to the environment.
By monitoring dust and particulate levels, a countertop fabricator can put measures in place to ensure that dust and waste are contained and disposed of safely and responsibly.
And now that Trolex has overhauled it’s already popular XD One personal dust monitor to be smaller, lighter – and cheaper! – there really is no excuse.
Also available to the stone industry through Stone Industry Group, the new XD1+ from Trolex truly is lightweight enough to be body worn and they’ve literally halved the price because they’re so passionately behind the need for this level of proactive safety.
In summary, dust and particulate monitoring is vitally important for the stone countertop industry. Now so more than ever.
For those with a bigger budget, you can look to investing in dedicated, state of the art real-time silica monitors like the Air XS from Trolex and Stone Industry Group.
For the rest of us, there’s no excuse not to be monitoring our general dust and particulate exposure in real-time now that the XD1+ from Trolex and Stone Industry Group has been so radically re-engineered and improved.
By monitoring and controlling airborne particles, fabricators can ensure the safety of their workers, safeguard their equipment and machinery, and promote responsible environmental practices.
Ultimately, investing in dust and particulate monitoring is an investment in the long-term viability and sustainability of the stone countertop industry, whichever route you take.
Proper monitoring practices are critical to providing a safe workplace and protecting the health of employees.
It’s also important to not just rely on monitoring but invest in effective systems that can manage and mitigate the dust as it’s generated.
So for effective, silica specific monitoring, ask Stone Industry Group about the Air XS from Trolex.
For more general dust and particulate monitoring – still in real-time, and now even more affordable, ask us about the XD1+.
Your workers and your business will thank you.