SafeWork New South Wales (SafeWork NSW) has been spreading the word on silica safety in businesses across the state. In a bid to drive down future silicosis cases, SafeWork NSW has visited numerous stone manufacturing businesses and interacted with businesses in the tunnelling, domestic and civil construction, foundries, and building products industries to raise awareness about silicosis and preventing silica exposure.
It comes as part of a “comprehensive” five-year plan to fight silicosis by raising awareness, interactions and research, and improving relevant legislation, SafeWork NSW Executive Director Specialist Services Andrew Gavrielatos said. “We’re approaching silica exposure from all angles — for example, in addition to a media campaign ‘Which Mask will you Wear?’, we’ve trained 184 inspectors to deliver education and compliance initiatives, we’ve held 48 industry forums, presentations and workshops and we’ve instigated partnerships and research into better exposure prevention techniques.”
SafeWork NSW is “also working with icare to improve knowledge of and access to health monitoring”, Gavrielatos said. More than 600 improvement and prohibition notices were issued by SafeWork NSW inspectors during the visits to ensure businesses comply with their work health and safety obligations around silica exposure, the regulator said. Of those, 85% have been fully complied with and most of the remaining notices relate to workers having a health monitoring test where SafeWork NSW is awaiting confirmation from icare, it added.
“As the number of notices complied with shows, silica exposure can be controlled by following simple steps,” Gavrielatos said. “Cut silica containing products with water, use ventilation and dust capture systems, wear a mask and clean up with water or a H or M class vacuum.” Last financial year, 3563 silica-exposed workers accessed health monitoring provided by icare’s Dust Diseases Care, SafeWork NSW said. To help workplaces improve their silica control measures, Gavrielatos is urging employers to visit the SafeWork NSW website to get more information, request an inspector visit, apply for a rebate or find out how to provide health monitoring for workers.
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Kadmy