Miter Square manufactures engineered stone benchtops in a Knoxfield factory. A WorkSafe Inspector, attending as part of a project on crystalline silica exposure in the stonemason industry, observed a handheld power tool being used to abrasively polish a stone slab.
The power tool was not fitted with an integrated water delivery system. No on-tool extraction system was connected nor was any local exhaust ventilation being used - required by regulation 319C(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.
An offcut of the stone was seized by the inspector, who also observed significant dust on the floor, horizontal surfaces and objects in the workplace.
During a second access the following day, two Inspectors and a Senior Occupational Hygienist observed a considerable amount of dust at the workplace and were informed by the company director that employees relied upon respiratory protective equipment to control the risk of exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
None of the respirators complied with safety requirements, resulting in employees being exposed to crystalline silica and the associated to risk to their health and safety.
The employer was charged, pleaded guilty and was – without conviction-- sentenced to pay a fine of $7,000 as well as the prosecution’s costs, in the amount of $3,756.
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