Crystalline silica exposure of workers using autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) products
Place of Publication
North Ryde, NSW
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Cutting autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) in the construction industry has the potential to expose workers to dust containing respirable crystalline silica. In order to better understand this health risk, a pilot program of air monitoring was conducted in different areas of three Sydney construction sites over a six- day period. An analysis of the results showed that the mean occupational exposure levels were below the exposure standard of 0.1 mg/m 3 for respirable crystalline silica. However, exceedances of the 50% action limit were observed. Respirable dust exposures exceeded the adopted OEL of 3.0 mg/m 3 in some instances. There was considerable variation between the sites in terms of hazard controls, general working conditions and work environments. Wearing of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) varied between AAC crew members and was absent for workers in the vicinity. It can be concluded that strict control measures such as isolating cutting areas, tool maintenance, careful training and supervision, and attention to housekeeping must be adopted to prevent workers’ exposure to respirable quartz and dust.