Boral Resources has been fined $180,000 after workers were exposed to respirable crystalline silica at a Montrose quarry. The company failed to provide and maintain a safe system of work, exposing workers to hazardous dust generated by blasting, crushing, mixing, screening and transferring of quarried rock.
An investigation found atmospheric monitoring conducted by Boral confirmed workers had been exposed to levels of respirable crystalline silica that exceeded workplace exposure standards.
The court found Boral could have reduced the risk of injury by requiring workers to wear protective equipment and providing supervision to ensure they did so.
To manage crystalline silica dust exposure risks in the extractives industry, duty holders should:
- Consult with workers, including any health and safety representatives, to identify hazards and determine how to control risks.
- Ensure any high risk crystalline silica work (HRCSW) is identified, recorded and only performed in accordance with a hazard control statement that is up to date and reviewed when necessary.
- Provide information, instruction and training to workers undertaking HRCSW on the associated health risks and the proper use of required control measures, such as appropriate respiratory protective equipment.
- Provide and maintain adequate airborne dust suppression and/or dust extraction ventilation systems.
- Enclose dust-generating sections of plant and/or areas where people are working within purpose built enclosures.
- Ensure work areas are cleaned regularly to prevent the build-up of dust on plant, equipment, working surfaces or the floor.
- Conduct atmospheric monitoring to ensure the concentration of respirable crystalline silica does not exceed the workplace exposure standard and provide test results to any at risk worker as soon as reasonably practicable.
- Ensure the health of workers who may be impacted by exposure to crystalline silica is monitored by a registered medical practitioner.
- Ensure the silica content of the quarried material is known, and that this information is passed on to customers.