SILICA FINE QUADRUPLED AFTER COMPANY APPEALS

Miter Square has been convicted and fined $28,000 for exposing workers to respirable crystalline silica in the manufacture of engineered stone in Knoxfield.

Initially fined $7,000 without conviction after pleading guilty, Miter Square appealed, only for the Melbourne County Court to impose a conviction and increase the fine amount fourfold, last Friday.

In October 2020, a WorkSafe inspector attending the factory observed a worker using a handheld power tool to abrasively polish a slab of engineered stone, without the use of an integrated water delivery system, on-tool extraction system or local exhaust ventilation.

Miter Square failed to ensure a safe workplace by requiring workers use tools without proper safety measures, resulting in a significant amount of dust covering the floor, horizontal surfaces and objects throughout the factory.

Workers had inadequate respirators, some with no filters or the wrong type of filter, with tests showing the stone contained 82% silica content.

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