SafeWork SA has announced a second round of silica dust exposure audits from this October onwards. This follows the implementation of the new nationally agreed exposure limits and similar audits in 2019.
SafeWork SA will be targeting the issues identified in last year’s audits and work with companies to ensure that the new exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica is being adhered to.
The new reduced limit is weighted over an eight-hour time period to be an average of 0.05mg/m3, effective 1 July 2020.
Inspectors will be visiting sites involved with the fabrication and installation of engineered stone, along with sites deemed to have the potential for high levels of exposure.
Silica dust can lead to diseases like silicosis, and its exposure must be carefully monitored and mitigated as much as possible to prevent dust exposure.
Martyn Campbell, SafeWork SA’s Executive Director has acknowledged the preventability of silica dust exposure and reminds operators of their responsibilities when working with engineered stone following the 2019 audits.
“Our inspectors attended nearly 40 businesses in 2019 and a total of 173 statutory notices were issued to improve safe systems of work and reduce exposure levels,” said Mr Campbell.
“This follow-up audit is our commitment to ensure businesses maintain compliance and understand their responsibility to protect their workers.”
“SafeWork SA is closely monitoring industries and we are urging workplaces to go further than meeting the minimum exposure limits to protect their workers,” said Mr Campbell.
“Businesses should review their silica dust control measures, and undertake air monitoring to ensure the workplace exposure limit is not being exceeded.”
The national guidance recommends that workplaces have a current understanding of their silica exposures to assess the risk to workers health with air-monitoring at least once per year.