Brick, Stone and Paver Splitters

Mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic splitters are used to cut, shape or break bricks, concrete block, stone, and pavers.

Description:

Cutting pavers, bricks, blocks, stones and other masonry materials generates a large amount of dust which may contain high levels of crystalline silica and creates a hazard for everyone in the vicinity. Mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic splitters have been used to cut or break bricks, concrete block, stone, and pavers for many years.  In recent years masonry saws have become more popular, but splitters are an alternative that generate less dust and less noise than power masonry dry saws.

Increasingly, nano-enabled masonry products are being used in construction that can also expose workers to inhaling engineered naomaterials, such as nano-sized titanium dioxide, when the products are cut in the absence of engineering controls that reduce exposures.

Splitters are an engineering control that are likely to reduce crystalline silica exposures to less than the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit and the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit and may eliminate the need for a respiratory protection program.  Splitters are also likely to reduce exposures to engineered nanomaterials.

 

Take care to identify a product that will accommodate the size of the brick, block or stone you intend to cut. 

Blockshear, LLC masonry, stone and slab splitters
 
Models
Costs
Splitting Force, pounds
Weight, pounds
Maximum Cutting Dimensions, inches
Manual masonry splitter M-12-M
$995
24,000
160
8-1/4 high by 18 wide
Air-assisted masonry splitter M-12-A
$1,295
24,000
160
8-1/4 high by 18 wide
Manual stone splitter S-20-M
$1,595
40,000
330
8-1/4 high by 18 wide
Air-assisted stone splitter S-20-A
$1,795
40,000
330
8-1/4 high by 18 wide
Air-assisted stone slab splitter SL-20-A
$2,295
40,000
400
8-1/4 high by 24.5 wide

  

 
Belle Group 1559000 Minipave Concrete Paving Block Splitter
  • Used for cutting common paving blocks domestic landscaping and small commercial projects
  • Cost: $245
  • Cutting thickness: 2 to 3-1/2 inches
  • Blade length: 10 inches
  • Cut force: 7050 pounds
  • Weight: 50 pounds
 
 
 
Hulton Tool Company – The Kracker manual block splitter
  • Cost: $995
 
 
Kraft Tool Company Mini Brick Splitter
  • Used for splitting bricks
  • Cost: $350
  • Throat: 5 inches high
  • Weight: 33 pounds
 
 
 Pave Tech, Inc. MiniSplit Brick Splitter
  • Used for splitting clay face bricks
  • Cost: $87
  • Cutting length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 3 pounds
 
Pave Tech, Inc. Paver Splitter
  • Used for splitting bricks and pavers (not natural stone)
  • Cost: $810
  • Cutting length: 13 inches
  • Cutting height: 3/8 to 4-3/4 inches
  • Weight: 91 pounds
 
 
Pave Tech, Inc. Wall Splitter
  • Used for splitting bricks, blocks and pavers (not natural stone)
  • Cost: $1,251
  • Cutting length: 17 inches
  • Cutting height: 3/8 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 126 pounds
 
 
Pave Tech, Inc. Slab Splitter
  • Used for splitting slabs, bricks, blocks and pavers (not natural stone)
  • Cost: $2,969
  • Cutting length: 25-1/2 inches
  • Cutting height: 3/8 to 15-3/4 inches
  • Weight: 194 pounds
 
 
Pave Tech, Inc. Stone Splitter
  • Used for splitting natural stone, concrete and clay pavers
  • Cost: $3,503
  • Cutting length: 12-3/4 inches
  • Cutting height: 3/8 to 5-1/4 inches
  • Weight: 132 pounds
 
 
Pave Tech, Inc. Electric Hydraulic Splitter
  • Used for splitting natural stone, blocks and concrete and clay pavers
  • Cost: $7,037
  • Power source: 12 volt battery with 110 volt charger
  • Cutting length: 17 inches
  • Cutting height: 1/3 to 8 inches
  • Cutting force: 46,300 pounds
  • Weight: 300 pounds
 
 
Pave Tech, Inc. MegaSplitter
  • Used for splitting natural stone, blocks and concrete and clay pavers
  • Power source: 220 volts, single phase, 5 amps
  • Cutting length: 35-1/2 inches
  • Cutting height: 1-5/8 to 14.5 inches
Models
Uses
Costs
Splitting Force, pounds
Weight, pounds
MegaSplitter 20T
Splitting limestone
$11,570
44,000
605
MegaSplitter 40T
Splitting granite and other hard natural stone
$22,026
88,000
770
 
 

Risks Addressed:

Silica dust exposure may cause silicosis or lung scarring with prolonged exposure.  Silicosis is an incurable, sometimes fatal, disease.  The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica is 0.05 mg/m3 as an 8-hour time weighted average.  The NIOSH-recommended exposure limit (REL) is 0.05 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average concentration for up to a 10-hour workday during a 40-hour workweek.  This is one-half of the OSHA standard when the dust is pure silica, but still twice the ACGIH-recommended threshold limit value (TLV) of 0.025 mg/m3.  Silica has also been associated with lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Another less understood, but emerging hazard is engineered nanomaterials. Incredibly small particles are being added to a broad range of construction products to improve performance, but animal toxicity tests indicate a need for closer scrutiny.  There is no evidence yet that engineered nanomaterials have caused harm in exposed workers. However, it is most important that exposures be limited and that precautionary approaches be used to reduce exposure and protect construction workers from the potential hazards of engineered nanomaterials. Nano-size ultrafine titanium dioxide, which can be present in nano-enabled masonry products, has been found to cause inflammation of the lungs and lung cancer in lab animals. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has determined that ultrafine titanium dioxide should be considered a potential occupational carcinogen. Other engineered nanomaterials that may be present in nano-enabled construction materials used in masonry work could also have the potential to cause harm when inhaled by construction workers. Cutting nano-enabled concrete roofing tiles containing titanium dioxide without vacuum dust controls can generate excessive amounts of airborne dust that if inhaled by workers could increase the risk of developing respiratory disease (West GH, et al 2016).

OSHA has no specific regulation or Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for any engineered nanomaterial. However, NIOSH has a recommended exposure limit (REL) for ultrafine titanium dioxide of 0.3 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average (TWA) concentration for up to 10 hours/day during a 40-hour week. The intent of the REL is to lower the risk to workers of the potential for developing lung cancer.
 


How Risks are Reduced:

Compared to masonry saws, masonry splitters generate less airborne particulate resulting in lower concentrations in the worker’s breathing zone and reduced exposures to respirable dust and silica.  Masonry splitters are also likely to reduce exposures to engineered nanomaterials when used for work on nano-enabled masonry products.

Sheehy et al. observed approximately a 100 fold reduction in respirable dust concentrations during the use of a Hytile Tilecutter compared to masonry saws. “The direct-reading sampling results for day one sampling show that the average respirable dust (relative) exposure was 0.014 mg/m3 with the Hytile Cutter and 2.5 mg/m3 using the Bosch saw.” On day two, “The average dust concentration was 6.5 mg/m3 for the gas powered Partner saw and 0.08 mg/m3 with the Hytile Cutter or almost two orders of magnitude higher for the Partner saw.” 

While these results are for splitting masonry roofing tiles, not brick, stone or pavers, safety and health experts believe these tools will produce similarly dramatic reductions in respirable dust and silica exposure. 

Experts also believe that splitters will also produce similar reductions in exposures to engineered nanomaterials.

There are no reports of the effect of splitters on reducing exposures to engineered nanomaterials found in masonry products. However, there is evidence that engineering approaches in general can substantially reduce such exposure. CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training demonstrated that local exhaust ventilation (LEV) equipped on a hand-held masonry saw was effective in substantially reducing exposures to both respirable dust and titanium dioxide while cutting nano-enabled concrete roofing tiles that contained titanium dioxide. Tiles were cut completely through in a controlled chamber setting and in the absence of vacuum dust controls, excessive amounts of visible dust was generated. When LEV was used, statistically significant reductions in mean concentrations of respirable dust and airborne titanium dioxide were obtained. Reductions in mean exposure concentrations were 95% or greater when LEV was used and the concentration of airborne titanium dioxide were below the NIOSH REL for both fine (2.4 mg/m3) and ultrafine (0.3 mg/m3) titanium dioxide. (West GH, et al 2016).


Effects on Productivity:

 

While splitters allow tile, brick, block or stone to be cut quite rapidly, controlling the precise location of the split requires the worker to have better technique and more skill than cutting with a power masonry saw.  There may be a learning curve with new equipment, and waste (masonry materials that are cut improperly) may be temporarily increased until workers have some experience using the tools. Even with skill and experience, it is unlikely that workers will be able to produce an edge that is smooth enough for use where it will be visible.  
 
Lower dust levels reduce site cleanup times and avoid exposing other workers, members of the public, adjacent property, cars and building occupants, which can increase liability and time-consuming disputes.  Improved worker comfort is a result of reduced airborne dust which may in turn result in less fatigue for the worker and greater productivity.  Use of mechanical splitters, may be more physically demanding for workers than a power saw, and fatigue may adversely affect productivity. Although data on dust exposures using splitters is limited, it is likely that using masonry splitters instead of saws will eliminate the need to wear a respirator, and the need for an employer respiratory protection program. 
 
Splitters are typically durable and, unlike power saws, most splitters are low cost tools that do not require electric power or gasoline.

Additional Considerations:

Some masonry splitters are powered with electrical power or pressurized air from a gasoline or electrical air compressors. 

Cords and extensions must be rated for the tool's power requirements, be inspected regularly, and used in combination with ground fault interrupt circuits.
 
The use of gasoline-powered air compressors and other equipment poses the risk of carbon monoxide exposure, particularly indoors and in areas where airflow is reduced. Steps to control exposure are important because the gas is invisible, odorless and tasteless. Small, inexpensive personal monitors should be worn by the operator to warn of unacceptable exposures.
 
Electrical and pneumatic masonry splitters may generate sound levels that are greater than 90 decibels, the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), and hazardous. Hearing protection should be worn when using electrical or pneumatic splitters unless an industrial hygienist has conducted noise monitoring and indicated that hearing protection is not required.
 
The operation of manual brick, stone and paver splitters requires significant effort which may lead to fatigue, pain and musculoskeletal disorders with repetitive use. Operators should take breaks on a regular basis and when fatigued. Consider having each tool and task combination evaluated by an industrial hygienist or ergonomist.
 
As is the case with any construction equipment, users should follow manufacturer safety recommendations and comply with any applicable local, state or federal regulations.

Contributors:

Bruce Lippy, PhD, CIH - CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training
Michael R. Cooper - Aria Environmental, Inc.
Bill Kojola, MS


Hazards Addressed:

Availability

Kraft Tool Company Mini Brick Splitter
To obtain information, visit http://www.krafttool.com or contact 1-800-422-2448 sales@krafttool.com

Hulton Tool Company The Kracker manual block splitter
To obtain information, visit http://hultontool.com or contact 1-877-425-2664 http://hultontool.com/contact.html

Blockshear, LLC masonry, stone and slab splitters
To obtain information, visit http://www.blockshear.com or contact 1-412-445-0703 ray@blockshear.com

Belle Group 155.9.000 Minipave Concrete Paving Block Splitter
To obtain information, visit http://constructioncomplete.com or contact 1-800-889-0661

Pave Tech, Inc. Masonry Splitters
To obtain information, visit http://www.pavetech.com or contact 1-800-728-3832 sales@paveedge.com

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.