Stone masonry processes produce large amounts of silica dust, due to the constant breaking down of raw materials. Strong impacts from hammering and chiselling stone scatters debris and dusts into the breathing space of the worker. Silica dust is particularly hazardous as it can cause silicosis, an inflammation and scarring of the lungs. Damage from inhaling stone dust can be permanent and life changing, so the importance of protecting users from exposure is very high.

With these hazards in mind, AES have designed and installed a safe workspace for users to learn and practice stone masonry.

The Stirling based Historic Scotland stone masonry workshop gives users maximum protection from silica dusts. The system features extraction arms and clean-up kits to remove dusts created when shaping workpieces with a hammer and chisel. Users typically use respiratory protection equipment whilst working, which would usually pose an obstruction towards using awkward extraction systems with small switches. Due to arms being mounted above the user, the operator has full mobility of the system, even when encumbered by protective workwear.

Extraction Arm

All dusts that are captured by the system are filtered and stored away from the users in the C-VAC system. The system can be emptied safely by a technician, meaning that students don’t need to come into direct contact with large amounts of loose silica dust.

The stone dust extraction system has been in place for several terms, and masons are seamlessly using the available extraction solutions with their workload. The user will typically shape their stone piece with the extraction arm positioned above the area of striking. The clean-up kit is then activated by releasing a slide valve located within arms reach. This lets the user use a small brush nozzled vacuum hose to remove excess dust from their work. High powered LED lights within the hood of the extraction arm provide the user with better visibility – key when crafting precise parts.

If you would like assistance in dealing with silica dusts, or are interested in any of the equipment used to build the workshop, then call AES on 0800 032 0905, or email on

Historic Scotland Stone Masonry Workshop

Click to see the stone silica dust extraction arms in action.