The WA and NSW governments have recently taken steps to further aid prevention of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure and other occupational dust diseases.
Western Australia have halved their workplace exposure standard for RCS to 0.05 mg/m3 over an 8-hour period. WA have also halved the exposure limit for respirable coal dust to 1.5 mg/m3.This follows SafeWork Australia’s revision to the standards in December of last year, as is effective as of 27 October.
Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston has stated that early intervention is key to managing the risk of dust diseases.
"WorkSafe's inspection program has looked at more than 100 workplaces to ensure employers are aware of the risks from silica and their responsibilities under workplace safety laws.
"The McGowan Government takes prevention and early detection very seriously and is taking steps to minimise these risks. Employers must ensure the new limits are not exceeded."
New South Wales
New laws from NSW have seen silicosis, asbestos and mesothelioma classified as notifiable diseases.
Any cases acquired as a result of workplace exposure will be placed on a new Dust Diseases Register to better help SafeWork NSW target sites for compliance and enforcement efforts.
Also part of NSW’s Dust Strategy 2020-2022 are SafeWork NSW’s annual reports. Inspectors will be required to conduct reports on the prevalence of dust diseases and analyse the effectiveness of the strategy.
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson has commented on the importance of the new laws.
“Over the past 12 months, 344 people were reported to have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease and more than 100 with silicosis. Where workplace exposure is the cause, I want these numbers to head towards zero.”