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New Silica Regulation - NSW

June 24, 2020

When products or materials containing crystalline silica are cut, sanded, drilled or ground into shape, a very fine dust is created. This dust is harmful when inhaled and can lead to silicosis.

From 1 July 2020 the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Silica) Regulation 2020 (the Regulation) will come into force. The object of the Regulation is to:

‘create an offence if a person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace directs or allows a worker to cut manufactured stone containing crystalline silica with a power tool unless certain controls are in place to protect workers from inhaling the dust from the cutting.’

This Regulation includes maximum penalties of $6,000 for an individual and $30,000 for a body corporate.

What the Regulation enforces

The Regulation makes it illegal for cutting, grinding, drilling or polishing manufactured stone with a power tool unless each worker who may inhale the dust is wearing respiratory PPE that complies with AS/NZS 1716-2012 and the tool is fitted with either a dust extraction system or a water suppression system.

Any vacuum connected to a dust extraction system must be a Class H or M in accordance with AS/NZS 60335.2.69:2017.

The definition of manufactured stone means stone that is artificially produced even if it contains some natural stone and includes engineered stone and artificial composite stone.’

Download the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Silica) Regulation 2020.

Who is affected?

Both stone manufacturers (supply and install) and builders and PCBU’s will need to ensure that all workers carrying out work with manufactured stone, or workers that are onsite whilst this work is being carried out, comply with the Regulation.

Workplace Exposure Standard (WES) – Silica

The (WES) for silica is being halved from 0.1mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3 (eight hour time-weighted average) as of 1 July 2020. Businesses must ensure that appropriate control measures are in place for work involving any material containing silica.

Builders will need to ensure all workers including subcontractors adhere to the (WES) and apply the appropriate control measures when working with products that contain crystalline silica.

To find out if a material contains crystalline silica check the product label and Safety Data Sheet (if available) or ask the manufacturer of the product.

Other Reforms Include

  • On the spot fines issued for uncontrolled dry-cutting of manufactured stone.
  • Medical practitioners will need to notify NSW Health when they diagnose a case of silicosis.

A penalty will apply for failure by a Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to notify SafeWork NSW of an adverse health monitoring report.

More Information

Understanding the risks should be a priority to protect your health, your workers health and you business.

HIA has produced a range of resources on working with products containing silica including a webinar series.

For further information on working with Silica visit SafeWork NSW.

If you would like further information on the silica changes HIA members can contact HIA’s Building services team on 1300 650 620 or hia_technical@hia.com.au

Are you seeking tailored safety solutions?

HIA Safety has a team of qualified specialists that can provide one on one tailored consultancy and can develop unique solutions to meet your business’s needs.

Call us on 1300 650 620 or go to HIA Safety to see how we can help your business meet the relevant workplace health and safety requirements.