June 23, 2022 | Products News

Ibrido low silica surfaces set a new industry standard

Quartz surfaces are some of the most popular in home and commercial renovation. It is vital that stonemasons and distributors follow recommended guidelines for safety during fabrication and transportation of quartz surfaces to reduce the risk of exposure to crystalline silica, a naturally occurring material found in stones, or use low silica surfaces.

It is widely known that working with engineered stone bears its risks to crystalline silica dust exposure. State regulators continue to update recommendations for the safe manufacturing of quartz stones to minimise risks of respiratory infection or permanent lung damage. Further to this, our product team has been working hard to innovate to find ways to reduce silica content in benchtop material.

Making engineered stones responsibly

Education and regulation around the safe handling of quartz surfaces is one part of the puzzle. Another is finding ways to develop and offer lower silica products to further minimise risk.

Ibrido (Italian for ‘hybrid’) is the latest innovation in this space. Ibrido is our unique low-silica engineered stone collection that boasts one of the lowest silica contents on market. As the government looks to legislate a maximum silica level (at present percentages can be up to 97% in engineered stone), this range sets a new standard in more responsibly produced engineered stone.

Supporting health and safety in the workplace

It is important to note that silica is not harmful to the consumer – it only presents risks during the fabrication process with exposure to minute crystalline silica dust particles and increased risk of unsafe manufacturing practices such as dry-cutting. There are steps set out by Safe Work Australia to guide stonemasons on where to start with a safety plan or areas to review to ensure optimum safe practices. Some steps include:

● Engage in wet-cutting
● Ensure appropriate safety masks and eye protection
● Follow recommended fabrication guidelines
● Implement a Silica Control Programme (SCP) at your workplace that is in accordance with all the applicable laws, regulations, orders and directives.
● Review your SCP on a regular basis to ensure ongoing legal compliance.

In October 2021, Safe Work Australia published a model Code of Practice with practical information on how to manage health and safety risks associated with respirable crystalline silica and assure compliance with general safety standards. Stonemasons should also contact their local regulatory body for state-specific information.

Our ongoing commitment to safety

Ibrido embodies Smartstone’s continuing commitment to engineering more responsible surfaces. We’re committed to a 100% low-silica product range within the next year – another market first – so stay tuned for updates.

We also continue to work closely with authoritative bodies to help inform and educate on safety policies. Smartstone is a founding member of the Australian Engineered Stone Advisory Group (AESAG), which was established to respond to the occupational risk of silicosis for stonemasons. AESAG is responsible for Australia’s first national product handling safety guide.

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