Crystalline Silica and the Swimming Pool & Spa Industry

May 7th, 2024

What is crystalline silica? 

Silica is silicon dioxide, a naturally occurring and widely abundant mineral that forms the major component of most rocks and soils.

What is silica dust? 

Silica dust or Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) is generated in workplace mechanical processes such as crushing, cutting, drilling, grinding, sawing or polishing of natural stone or man-made products that contain silica. RCS can penetrate deep into the lungs and can cause irreversible lung damage.

Examples of work activities that may generate RCS include: 

  • handling some types of pool filter media

  • using power tools to cut, grind or polish natural and engineered stone*.

  • pool paving and pool interior surfacing and renovations. 

  • Excavation, earth moving and drilling.

  • construction labouring and demolition. 

  • brick, concrete or stone cutting; especially using dry methods

  • angle grinding, jack hammering and chiselling of concrete or masonry. 

  • crushing, loading, hauling and dumping of excavated materials.

  • clean-up activities such as sweeping.

*Note:  Engineered Stone Ban - WHS ministers unanimously agreed to ban the use, supply and manufacture of all engineered stone with the majority of jurisdictions to commence the ban from 1 July 2024. For more information – Australia Only

Assessing the Risks

A risk assessment will help you determine how serious the risk posed by the hazard is, what action is necessary to control the risk, and who is responsible for implementing the control measure. A risk assessment should be carried out if any of the following apply:

  • there is uncertainty about how a hazard may result in a harm

  • the work activity involves several different hazards, or

  • there is any lack of understanding of how these hazards may interact with each other.

Risks arising from working with silica containing materials must be eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable to protect workers and other persons against harm.

SPASA recommends that members always use a Silica Dust Respirator and other relevant control measures when undertaking high risk activities or where there is uncertainty to crystalline silica exposure.

Note:   If workers are cutting, grinding, sanding, drilling and polishing silica containing products or carrying out any activities that release silica dust into the air, then there is a significant risk that without effective controls they will be exposed to silica dust and develop an illness or silica-associated disease



New Zealand

For More Information

Spiros Dassakis
Chief Policy Officer