QLD: silica dust code of practice slated for construction industry

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 15 November, 2022 - 12:45
Policy & legislation

Australia’s first silica dust code of practice for the construction industry will commence in Queensland on 1 May 2023.

It applies to all construction work as well as the manufacturing of materials such as bricks, blocks, tiles, mortar and concrete.

The code outlines how duty holders can meet the requirements of Queensland’s work health and safety legislation, including eliminating or minimising exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) at work by:

  • using tried and tested dust control methods that prevent silica dust from being generated or being released into the air, including water suppression and on-tool dust extraction
  • using appropriate respirable protective equipment to safeguard at-risk workers
  • using exposure data from air monitoring to check dust controls is effective
  • providing health monitoring to at-risk workers, with clearly defined triggers for testing based on the level of risk
  • consulting with workers, as well as training, education, instruction and supervision of workers.

The code was developed in close consultation with workers, employers and technical experts across Queensland, building on international best practices to ensure silica dust is managed safely and workers are protected in the construction industry and the manufacturing of construction materials.

“The need to protect workers from silicosis in other industries, particularly construction, became clear while Queensland’s nation-leading stone benchtop code was being developed in 2019,” said Queensland Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace.

“That is why this code will apply to all construction work in Queensland, as well as the manufacturing of materials such as bricks, blocks, tiles, mortar, and concrete.

“The new code sets out effective dust controls to prevent or minimise exposure in the first place.”