Health and security

Pneumatic tools, heavy loads and dust

Stonemasons undergo the same health and safety training as construction workers, but the main concern is dust:

  • SILICOSIS: Lung disease caused by inhalation of silica dust
    • Crystalline silica (quartz) becomes lodged in the lungs and the body cannot remove it
    • Symptoms (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath) show up years after exposure
    • Disease is irreversible
    • Drilling, cutting & grinding stone containing silica creates dust
    • Low silica: limestone & marble (1%)
    • Medium silica: granite (8-35%)
    • High silica: sandstone and synthetic stone (93%)
  • POWER TOOLS: grinders
    • Handheld grinders normally pull away from the body, but stonemasons use them upside down to push dust away from the cutting line
    • Grinders that becomes stuck will be projected towards the body

forklift granite

suction lift granite

Wet workshops

water with grinder

A relatively new technique in stonemasonry: power tools such as grinders, saws, and polishers equiped with a water hose to reduce dust.

water with grinder

Wet work is rarely possible on construction sites which remain dry and dusty. There is also some resistance to wet work due to tradition.