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California and Australia Might Ban Engineered Quartz Countertops

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Caesarstone Quartz Countertop Kitchen Example
Source: Caesarstone

According to recent news reports, the LA County Board of Supervisors is considering a ban on engineered quartz countertops, due to the number of workers being harmed during fabrication and installation processes.

Australia has been strongly considering a ban for the same reasons.

Respirable crystalline silica causes irreparable damage to lung tissue. Repeated high exposure to respirable silica during the cutting and grinding of quartz countertops can lead to silicosis, an incurable condition.

With the continued rise in popularity of this countertop material, more workers are getting sick.

News reports seem shocked about the matter, despite the risks and occupational hazards being well-documented and highly cautioned about over the years.

In 2016, the NY Times reported – Popular Quartz Countertops Pose a Risk to Workers.

OSHA published extensive new safety guidelines in 2016, regarding the occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica – standard 1926.1153.

Here is a 2-page OSHA Fact Sheet describing their respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. Here is another reference of Table 1 control methods with images of representative tools.

OSHA’s guidelines were published more than 7 years ago.

It seems that there are two potential paths forward. Alarmed government and health officials will likely either seek to protect workers by banning engineered quartz countertops, or push for improved worker awareness and enforcement of airborne silica control and safety measures.