VIC: company fined $25,000 over crystalline silica exposure risk

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.
Wednesday, 22 June, 2022 - 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions

A Dandenong stonemasonry company has been convicted and fined a total of $25,000 after failing to control deadly risks associated with exposure to silica dust.

Hilton Stone recently pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to two rolled-up charges of failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

The company was fined $12,500 for failing to provide proper controls to reduce the risk of exposure to silica dust and a further $12,500 for failing to have required guarding on a power saw. The company was also ordered to pay costs of $6157.

The court heard that in March 2020, a WorkSafe inspector visited Hilton Stone as part of WorkSafe’s inspection focus on reducing the risks of exposure to crystalline silica in the workplace.

The inspector found that equipment used to cut, grind or polish engineered stone did not have controls in place such as an integrated water delivery system to suppress silica dust an on-tool extraction system to remove airborne particles, personal protective equipment such as a respirator or health monitoring checks of workers.

WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Narelle Beer stressed the importance of protecting workers from exposure to crystalline silica.

“Exposure to silica dust can lead to deadly diseases such as silicosis, which is a scarring of the lungs, kidney disease, lung cancer and autoimmune diseases,” Beer said.

“Employers must ensure all safety measures are in place so workers aren’t exposed to levels of silica dust that are above the exposure standard.”