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Working Safely with James Hardie Products

James Hardie® products contain crystalline silica. This mineral is found everywhere in the world – often in the form of sand – and therefore often a component of many construction products such as brick, stone, concrete, glass wool and abrasives. The mineral itself is harmless, but certain building practices such as drilling, high speed cutting and abrading can release fine particulate dust which may constitute a health hazard if appropriate safety measures are not being taken. Excessive or protracted inhalation of fine particle silica dust can lead to a lung disease called silicosis. There is also some evidence that it may increase the risk of lung cancer if inhaled for prolonged periods of time. Smoking may also exacerbate this risk. Like smoking the risk from fine particle silica dust is time and concentration dependent. To suppress or to reduce excessive inhalation of fine particle silica dust, the following steps should be taken to protect operatives who work with products containing silica dust:

  • During fabrication operate outdoors or in well ventilated space in a separate area if available or away and down-wind from other operatives
  • Use low speed, low dust cutting tools such as the Hardie® Backer score and snap knife, the Hardie™ Guillotine and Hardie® Blade fitted to a circular saw which is connected to a dust extraction HEPA filter vacuum cleaner (see James Hardie tools)
  • When cutting, drilling or abrading always wear a FFP2/3 dust control or full face mask adjusted and fitted in conformity with regulatory recommendations and affixed with CE marking and/or fully certified to the relevant EN149:2001 standards if applicable
  • Keep the working environment clean and remove debris as soon as possible
  • At the end of the operation remove dust from clothes, tools and work area with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner or damp with water to suppress the dust before sweeping.

More information

For more information on working with silica, please see our best practice guide: Working safely with fibre cement products.

Remember: James Hardie products are no more dangerous than many other building materials containing crystalline silica sand. We hope through this information to engage in effective education of the construction industry and build upon the requirements of national health and safety regulations.

For more information, see our installation instructions and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available:


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