VIC: quarry fined $180,000 over 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.
Thursday, 11 May, 2023 - 12:15
Incidents & prosecutions

The operator of a Montrose quarry in Victoria has been convicted and fined $180,000 after workers were exposed to respirable crystalline silica.

Boral Resources (Vic) was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work.

The company was also ordered to pay $13,886 in costs.

In September 2019, WorkSafe Victoria inspectors visiting the site observed potential exposure hazards from dust that was generated during processes including the blasting, crushing, mixing, screening and transferring of quarried rock.

An investigation found atmospheric monitoring conducted by Boral Resources confirmed that several workers had been exposed to levels of respirable crystalline silica that exceeded workplace exposure standards.

The court found it was reasonably practicable for the company to have reduced the risk of serious injury or death by requiring workers to wear respiratory protective equipment that was adequately fit-tested and by providing supervision to ensure workers did so.

WorkSafe Victoria director of health and safety, Narelle Beer, said the risks associated with crystalline silica and the available control measures were well known.

“There is simply no excuse for placing your workers at risk of developing deadly lung conditions such as silicosis,” Beer said.

“This insidious and incurable disease does not discriminate and WorkSafe will not hesitate to take strong action against those failing to protect their workers, regardless of the industry.”