Home > Professions > Hazards of Stonemasonry

Hazards of Stonemasonry

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 4 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Stonemason Manual Handling Upper Limb

Over the last few years, there has been an average of one fatality every 12 months in the stonework sector. Demand for stonemasonry has reflected the increase in deaths and injuries. Designers of offices, flats and houses are using granite, marble and other stones as an integral part of a building’s décor at the luxury end of the property market.

Manual Handling

Perhaps unsurprisingly, injury most often occurs when stonemasons handle slabs. Lifting, carrying and putting down large chunks of stone are activities that have innate risks.

There are three well established principles of Manual Handling that apply to stonemasons:

  • Do not engage in any hazardous manual handling activity whenever possible
  • Assess the risks of an unavoidable and hazardous manual handling activity
  • Take measures to lessen the risk of injury as far as this is possible

Clearly, many manual handling activities take place during a stonemason’s day. To conduct frequent risk assessments isn’t practical. This is when the manual handling assessment tool from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) may help. The tool, known as MAC, helps to highlight manual handling operations that are likely to be hazardous.

Occupational Illness

Stonemasons face a number of occupational illnesses. The noise of cutting stone on site, for instance, can lead to hearing problems.

A stonemason who finds it hard to hear people, needs the TV turned up loud, and cannot hear callers on the phone should see a doctor. Another cause of concern is a humming, buzzing, ringing or whistling sound in the ears. Wearing some form of hearing protection at work in a Noisy Environment is advisable.

Upper Limb Disorders

Working with stone can lead to upper limb disorders. The most common cause is a vibrating hand tool. These disorders can affect a stonemason’s fingers, arms, shoulders and neck. Doctors use terms such as Occupational Overuse Syndrome, cumulative trauma disorder and repetitive strain injury to describe the symptoms.

Any stonemason who feels a burning or aching sensation in the upper limbs must visit a doctor. Most patients make a complete recovery if they take prompt action.

Respiratory Disease

Stone dust may damage the respiratory system. The most common respiratory diseases a stonemason may have to cope with are silicosis, asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Silicosis may not appear for years. Over time, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) may enter the lungs. It causes damage and inflames the tissue. This, in turn, can lead to fibrosis (scar tissue). The symptoms of silicosis are difficulty breathing and a cough that won’t go away.

Asthma

Occupational asthma occurs when a stonemason has an allergic reaction to a workplace substance such as stone dust. Inhalers can help if a sufferer feels on the point of experiencing an asthma attack.

COPD

Smoking usually causes COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). But harmful dust at work may contribute to the development of the disease if a stonemason is a smoker. It’s also possible that in some instances, harmful dust can be the direct cause of COPD.

Employers should take every precaution to limit the risks of stonemasons developing respiratory disease. Masks and ventilation may help. Employers should seek advice from HSE to ensure they are taking all practical and reasonable measures.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi Kevin, very interesting article. Safety is something that is often over looked in stonemasonry.
Tom - 16-Sep-15 @ 4:16 PM
I have a lung diese and I was wondering if it would be a bad idea to become a stonemason. I will obviously wear a face mask but I still don't know if it will be bad for me or not?
Bob - 27-Jul-15 @ 1:23 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • abdi
    Re: Violence at Work
    a colleague had threaten to kill me, once i informed it to the Managing Director he said just drop it, ill have a chat with him. what should i do?
    21 November 2019
  • Morrigan
    Re: Safe Working Temperatures
    I work in a kitchen and in summer we were reaching temperatures of 39-40°c away from the equipment. Now it's winter we are.currently…
    21 November 2019
  • Vera
    Re: Where do I Stand in regards to Workplace Law?
    Good afternoon, I leave on the state of CT . I’m a food worker at school district. This morning I got at…
    20 November 2019
  • Anon
    Re: Bullying at Work
    I suffered violent bullying and was forced out of long term career at HMRC Revenue & Customs aka HMRC. I learned through that process that they…
    20 November 2019
  • Liz
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    I've worked night shift at my company for best part of 10 years, I've worked days when they have requested…
    19 November 2019
  • Boaner
    Re: Can my Employer Fire Me?
    I have a coffee tract that says I would to night shift as and when required. It actually works that I am in 2 weeks day shift and two…
    19 November 2019
  • Stuart Gallagher
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    I only eat haggis and drink IRNBRU i dont really eat KFC so i wouldnt know. IRNBRU and haggis is the best diet to have. Andy Murry is my…
    19 November 2019
  • Patti
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    I had knee surgery and have been off for11 weeks. My Dr told me I could go back with restrictions. Can I be fired or demoted because of this?
    18 November 2019
  • Buzzy Bee !
    Re: Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?
    After 25 years my employer wants every day and afternoon shift worker to work some nights. I do not…
    17 November 2019
  • Jay
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    I have been with my company for 2 years me and my partner was expecting our 1st child but 11 days to when our baby was due she sadly passed…
    17 November 2019