Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) tests on three tool systems designed to reduce workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) have revealed large variations in their effectiveness.

None of the systems – which were tested by the HSL operators who were independent of the three tool manufacturers – came below the workplace exposure limit (WEL) for RCS, which is 0.1 mg/m3 respirable dust, averaged over eight hours. But a worker would be 20 times more exposed, depending on which tool they used.

The study was commissioned by Hilti, which approached HSL. Three systems were tested, each consisting of a circular blade, saw and a matching vacuum as recommended by the manufacturer.

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