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6 Things to Remember to Comply with Stone Industry Respiratory Legislation

6 Things to Remember to Comply with Stone Industry Respiratory Legislation

Do You Work In The Stone Industry And Are Required To Wear A Respirator?

6 helpful tips to help you comply with Stone Industry respiratory legislation!

1. Do You Work In The Stone Industry? Did you know you are now required to wear PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirators)?

PAPR respirators are now required due to the high silica content found in natural and engineered stones. (Silica particles impose a significant health risk)
PAPR means 'powered air purifying respirator'. PAPR uses a blower to pass contaminated air through a filter, helping to deliver safer breathable air, free of contaminant or airborne particles to the users face - who is wearing either a tight fitting half face, or full face mask/hooded helmet. 
ABL stock a range of powered air purifying respirators including 3M Versalfo and CleanSpace.
In addition to stocking the PAPR units ABL stock an extensive range of spare/replacements parts for the Versaflo, Jupiter, Speedglas and CleanSpace PAPR units. 

2. Do You Wear Tight Fitting PAPR Respirators? Did you know you MUST be clean shaven with no facial hair?

Facial hair including beards, moustaches, stubble, sideburns, even goatees that overlap the respirator seal will stop a respirator from creating a proper seal to the wearers face. 
All workers that are required to wear a tight fitting respirator must be clean shaven OR ensure their is not hair between their face and the seal of the respirator mask. Remember crystalline silica particles are smaller than facial hair, meaning if facial hair is between the respirator and the wearers face the silica particles can still enter into the masked area and contaminate the air.

Is your facial hair acceptable?

Checkout an easy to use guide here. 

3. Do you wear a tight fitting PAPR respirator? Did you know you MUST be fit tested

Fit testing ensures workers are wearing an appropriate respirator for their facial characteristics. As every persons facial features are different it is unlikely that 'one respirator fits all'.
PAPR units which operate on a tight seal require Quantitative Fit Testing. Quantitative fit testing measures the effectiveness of the seal between the respirator/mask and the wearers face.
If there is not a complete seal to the wearers face, contaminated air can leak into the respirator and impose harm on the wearer. 
Loose fitting hood and headtop respirators do not require fit testing - this is because they do not operate using a tight seal to the wearers face, they cover the whole head.
NB - If you work in the stone industry Quantitative Fit testing is now required. ABL is here to help with fit testing!
The 2019 Code of Practice states that fit testing is required to be carried out:
  • by a competent in-house person, manufacturer, supplier or consultant
  • before wearing a tight-fitting respirator for the first time
  • each time a new make or model of tight-fitting respirator is issued
  • whenever there is a change in the worker’s facial characteristics or features which may affect the
  • facial seal (for example large weight loss or gain)
  • on a regular basis upon risk assessment
  • at least annually

Competency of fit testers

  • Fit testers must be properly trained and proficient in the fit-test method being used.
  • There is no approved fit-test training or competency standard in Australia at present however relevant
  • competencies would include:
  • knowledge of the respirators used for the fit test
  • knowledge of the fit-test method
  • ability to set up all applicable equipment and monitor its function
  • ability to carry out the test and evaluate the results
  • ability to identify likely causes of fit-test failure. 

4. Importance of respirator maintenance - Prolong the life of your respirators!

Under the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) must be maintained as to ensure it continues to provide effective protection. Maintenance of RPE should be carried out by a competent person and in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. (A competent person is described as ** person who has acquired through training, qualification or experience the knowledge and skills to carry out the task.**)
To ensure maintenance of RPE a maintenance program should be put into place. 
A RPE maintenance program should include procedures for:
  • Daily cleaning and inspection of RPE
  • Appropriate storage of RPE - In a dry, clean and sealed container. RPE should be stored clean/dry, away from dust and direct sunlight and in a way that the face piece is not subject to distortion. 
  • Repair and/or replacement of worn or defective components e.g. filters, head harness etc. Please note - All filters are manufactured with an expiration date, this is usually recorded on the filters packaging. Filters need to be replaced either on this date OR when 'clogged' whichever occurs first (please refer to manufacture instructions for further details) 

Another key component of an RPE maintenance program is record keeping. Employers/Employees should keep the following records:

  • details of any issues, including the date (for reusable only)
  • user records including training provided
  • fit testing records for each worker including:
    • type of test performed
    • make, model, style and size of respirator tested
    • date of the test
    • result of the test
  • maintenance records including filter replacement and RPE maintenance schedules
  • RPE program records, including procedures for use and audits or evaluations

5. Working with silica dust? Do you have appropriate signage?

Displaying appropriate signage with the workplace in addition to safe work practices is another easy to to ensure you comply with respiratory legislation and regulations!
ABL stock a range of warehouse/factory signs. 
If working in the stone industry and/or your workplace has the potential for silica dust ensure you have these 2 warning signs displayed to communicate respirable crystalline silica dust hazards and required personal protection controls.

Respirator Must Be Worn

6. Is your workspace well ventilated? 

There are 2 main suitable options here. Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) or Natural Ventilation.
Local Exhaust Ventilation:
LEV  is used to remove airborne contaminants before they reach the breathing zone. LEV is the most effective ventilation control method for large amounts of respirable silica dust as it is usually applied close to the source of the dust. Local Exhaust Ventilation systems includes a shroud (a suction casing that surrounds the wheel/stone), an on-tool hose attachment, and a vacuum system. 


Natural Ventilation:
All workplaces should have an appropriate supply of fresh natural air. Natural ventilation within a workplace can be achieved easily by opening windows and doors.
By improving the natural ventilation within a workplace it can help reduce the concentration of contaminants in the air. Please note natural ventilation cannot be relied on as way to manage exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust.


The information provided above is intended as a guide to assist you  with complying with respiratory legislation and regulations.
For additional information or specific advice to assist you with Respiratory Products, contact us here!
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