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New silica rules for NSW

March 05, 2020

The NSW Government has announced a number of new rules will be introduced in response to silicosis issues. These new rules include:
  • On-the-spot fines for ‘unsafe dry cutting practices’
  • Adoption of the revised Workplace Exposure Standard for silica
  • The creation of a Silicosis health Register.

Ban on dry cutting

The new rules will enable WorkSafe inspectors to issue on the spot fines for those that engage in ‘unsafe dry cutting practices’ for building products containing silica.
HIA understands that although the Governments media release stated that ‘dry cutting is an offence’ controlled dry cutting will still be permissible under the amendments that will be made to the Regulation.

Revised Workplace Exposure Standard

In line with other states NSW will adopt the revised silica workplace exposure standard that has been reduced from 0.01mg/m3 to new level of 0.05mg/m3 and this will take from 1 July this year. 
The new exposure standard will apply to all activities that could potentially generate silica dust. This will include but not be limited to working with a broad range of building materials such as sand, concrete and concrete products, autoclaved aerated concrete, bricks, tiles, etc. The common tasks in working with these products that may generate silica dust such as cutting, drilling, grinding would all be impacted by the lower exposure standard.

Silicosis Register

Silicosis will also be listed as a notifiable disease, creating a Silicosis Health Register to allow SafeWork to track and investigate the workplaces of those diagnosed with the disease. This means that SafeWork NSW must be notified when patients are diagnosed.

Meeting the new laws

HIA has produced a range of member resources including, webinars and information sheets to assist members in understanding their obligations and how to work safely with products containing silica and what the revised workplace exposure standard will mean.

For further information on these changes contact:
HIA’s Building Services team on 1300 650 620 or email hia_technical@hia.com.au