Silica exposure can cause various lung and kidney diseases, and liver problems, while prolonged exposure can result in various cancers. Per the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must provide health monitoring for workers who use, handle, generate or store crystalline silica, as there is a significant risk to the worker’s health because of exposure. A registered medical practitioner must examine and monitor workers, to ensure that exposure to silica dust is not affecting their health.
The ‘Crystalline silica health monitoring guide’ provides practical guidance on requirements under the model WHS laws, to protect workers whose health may be at risk due to exposure to crystalline silica dust. The guide is the first of a series of updated health monitoring guides to be published by Safe Work Australia (SWA). The guide contains references to the legal requirements under the WHS Act and WHS Regulations, to enable PCBUs to supervise health monitoring for workers. The guide provides examples of work activities that involve crystalline silica and sources of non-occupational exposure that PCBUs should be aware of.
It also provides guidance for health monitoring before, during and after working in a crystalline silica process, including details about the physical examinations that must be performed by a medical practitioner at every stage of working in a crystalline silica process. The guide also details how exposure to crystalline silica can affect worker health in future, leading to silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis, renal disease, sarcoidosis and a host of other autoimmune diseases. The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals for the respirable fraction of quartz is also provided, from SWA’s Hazardous Chemicals Information System.
The guide is available here.
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Gajus