WA: health surveillance requirements for silica strengthened

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Tuesday, 26 January, 2021 - 12:45
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Western Australia

The West Australian Government recently made a change to OHS regulations that will increase protections for workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica in the engineered stone industry.

The change, which comes with a three-month grace period, will require employers to provide a low-dose high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan, supervised by an appointed medical practitioner, instead of the previously required chest X-ray.

HRCT scans are superior to chest X-rays and will assist in the early detection of silicosis.

Silicosis is a serious and potentially lethal occupational lung disease caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica in industries such as engineered stone product manufacturing, installation, stonemasonry and construction work.

The amendment will assist in the early detection of silicosis and follows the recent decision to halve the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica to further protect workers.

 “The safety and health of WA workers is a key priority for the McGowan Government; this amendment to workplace safety laws will assist in the early detection or prevention of this disease,” said WA Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston.

“The low-dose high-resolution CT scan coupled with the recent halving of the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica, will be of great assistance in improving health outcomes for workers exposed to silica.

 “There has been much concern about the number of silicosis cases in the eastern states and, although we have seen relatively few cases in WA, it’s appropriate we take action to minimise the risks for workers.”