Construction employers throughout Australia may be considering their workplace policies around respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Especially since Safe Work Australia and Breathe Free Australia both recommend product substitution as a highly effective measure to protect workers from exposure to silica dust.

As a leading manufacturer of concrete repair mortars, Fosroc ANZ committed to reducing the levels of respirable crystalline silica in its concrete and grout products. Fosroc’s Renderoc, Patchroc, Paveroc, Conbextra and Construction Grout ranges are now classified as RCS hazard free.

Being classified as RCS hazard free means products contain less than 0.1 per cent respirable crystalline silica and are therefore non hazardous in accordance with the Australian Inventory of Industrial Chemicals. Vin Brereton, Fosroc ANZ General Manager, said, “Fosroc invested in significant research and development to reduce the level of RCS in our concrete and grouting products – without compromising product performance.

“In saying that, we have always advocated for wearing the correct PPE and this is inherent in our safety documentation and recommendations.”

Do concrete mortars and grouts contain RCS?

Yes, silica is still present in cementitious mortars and grouts sold in Australia and New Zealand. In the case of concrete and grout products that contain RCS, the silica dust can be released into the air during the mixing of dry powders with water. These particles can lodge deep in the lungs and lead to respiratory diseases, including silicosis, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

While RCS levels in concrete mortars and grouts are much lower than those in engineered stone, mixing cementitious powders with water can release these tiny dust particles into the work environment.

How do I know if a product is RCS hazard free?

When purchasing and using cement-based mortars and grouts, Fosroc recommends checking the SDS and product packaging to confirm RCS content. Products sold in Australia that contain respirable crystalline silica in quantities >0.1 per cent are required by law to include the statement ‘H350 May cause cancer’ on the SDS and packaging. Unfortunately, products manufactured overseas might not include this warning.

How can workers be protected from silica dust?

According to workplace exposure standards set out by Safe Work Australia, workers must not be exposed to levels of silica dust greater than 0.05 mg/m3 over an eight-hour working day, for a five-day working week. Each state and territory is responsible for enforcing this work health and safety law in its jurisdiction.

Safe Work Australia outlines control measures to protect workers from exposure to silica dust, including substituting products with a less hazardous alternative. Ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE) are also critical safety measures.

Do I need to wear PPE when using Fosroc mortars and grouts?

Yes. While Fosroc’s concrete mortars and grouts are classified as RCS hazard free, we always recommend safety precautions to avoid inhaling dust. While mixing cementitious powders, always wear a dust mask and work in well-ventilated areas. Safety directions and PPE requirements are outlined on the SDS for every Fosroc ANZ product.

Check with your Fosroc ANZ Sales Representative for more information, or find out more at fosroc.com.au and fosroc.co.nz

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Fosroc. For more information, visit fosroc.com.au

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