SafeWork SA conducts more audits on silica dust exposure

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.
Saturday, 10 October, 2020 - 02:45
Industry news
South Australia

SafeWork SA recently committed to a second-round of audits from October 2020 on silica dust exposure ensuring ongoing compliance within exposure limits and rectification of any previously identified issues.

Following audits in 2019, SafeWork SA inspectors will again be visiting workplaces identified as either being involved in fabrication and installation of engineered stone products or having the potential for high levels of exposure.

Exposure to dust containing respirable crystalline silica can lead to diseases like silicosis, and SafeWork SA executive director, Martyn Campbell said silica dust exposure is entirely preventable and it is the responsibility of the workplace to know and control their dust exposure levels.

In 2019, SafeWork SA conducted compliance audits for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure risks.

“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 Campbell.

“This follow-up audit is our commitment to ensure businesses maintain compliance and understand their responsibility to protect their workers.”

Effective 1 July 2020, SafeWork SA implemented the nationally agreed reduction to workplace exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to an eight-hour time weighted average of 0.05mg/m3.

“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 Campbell.

“Businesses should review their silica dust control measures, and undertake air monitoring to ensure the workplace exposure limit is not being exceeded.”

In September 2019, Safe Work Australia published guidance on working with silica and silica containing products.

This 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.