‘No need’ for quartz surface ban, says WFF

The Worktop Fabricators Federation (WFF) has said it believes there is no need for a total ban on quartz surfaces, and that rigorous safety and best practice regulations are the best way to handle any risks they pose.

The Federation has stated that it still believes there “is no health risk in handling, shipping, installing or using engineered stone worktops”, and that the risk of respirable silica dust is “purely to do with factory management in the fabrication process”.

WFF reiterated that current Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance for factory owners is that products containing silica can be processed safely when proper controls are put in place.

According to the WFF, those at greatest risk of silica dust are “builders or joiners buying stone blanks from distributors and dry-cutting in customers’ gardens with an angle-grinder or modified joinery tools”.

The Federation also stressed that “professional worktop fabricators cut stone in factory environments, on specialist machinery, with water-suppression to capture dust at the cutting blade”.

The WFF also explained that silica “is also present in granite, natural quartzite and other stone and ceramic worktop materials”, so a total ban “doesn’t mean workers would no longer be at risk”.

However, the WFF says it is still championing best practice and safety regulations to help keep fabricators as safe as possible. The WFF is also working in consultation with major quartz suppliers, which it says are “already moving towards formulations with a lower quartz content”.

To reassure customers, the WFF says that its advice is to buy from reputable fabricators. It added that its members “all operate automated cutting tools using state-of-the-art dust suppression, undertake regular health audits of their workers and hold detailed data sheets to prove the provenance of the materials they supply”.

A full list of the WFF’s members can be found here.

In related news, Australia’s government announced major plans to ban engineered stone surface products from its market by July next year.

Surfaces brand Caesarstone said it “disagreed” with the Australian government’s decision, echoing the WFF’s stance that “the products are safe to fabricate under safe working practices”.

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