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Silica Regulation in NSW

In NSW it is illegal to carry out work on manufactured stone that involves cutting. This includes grinding, drilling or polishing with a power tool - unless the work is carried out under specified controlled conditions.

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.

What are the requirements in NSW?

The NSW Work Health and Safety Amendment (Silica) Regulation 2020 (the Regulation) makes it illegal to cut (which includes grinding, drilling or polishing) manufactured stone containing crystalline silica with a power tool unless a local exhaust ventilation system that captures the dust is used, or the tool is fitted with either a dust extraction system or a water suppression system. 

In addition, each worker who may inhale the dust must wear respiratory PPE that protects the worker from the inhalation of the dust and complies with AS/NZS 1716-2012.

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.’

Who is affected?

Stone manufacturers (supply and install), builders and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) will need to ensure that all workers carrying out work with manufactured stone comply with the Regulation.

Other reforms include

  • On the spot fines issued for uncontrolled 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 to notify SafeWork NSW of an adverse health monitoring report.

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

To find out more, contact HIA's Building Services team.

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