New Silica strategy
The NSW Government’s Silicosis Reduction Strategy has come into effect today, July 1. The strategy introduces a comprehensive series of reforms which aime to put an end to the deadly lung disease.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the amendments make silicosis scheduled medical condition, allowing NSW medical practitioners to inform NSW Health of identified cases of silicosis, and provide this information to SafeWork NSW.
“Silicosis is an incredibly painful and aggressive disease, but it is also preventable. We are taking every step possible to protect workers in NSW from being exposed to lethal levels of silica,” Mr Anderson said. “Making silicosis a notifiable disease is the next step in our journey to stamp out silicosis cases in this state. Once NSW Health notifies SafeWork NSW of cases, our inspectors can target their compliance and enforcement efforts based on each diagnosed individual’s current or previous workplaces and ultimately prevent further cases.” Read more: SafeWorkNSW media release
New Formwork Code of Practice
This week the NSW Government launched a new Code of Practice to provide clear and practical industry advice on how to safely work with formwork in the state. The Minister said formwork, the preparation of temporary or permanent moulds into which concrete is poured, can be extremely dangerous if suitable safety standards are not in place. “Formwork failures can be catastrophic and have caused hundreds of injuries in NSW, which is why it’s critical that the construction industry has clear and consistent measures that can be implemented across all worksites,” Mr Anderson said. One of the biggest safety risks when working with formwork are falls from heights, along with being hit by falling objects.
Read more: Formwork Code of Practice [pdf]. SafeWorkNSW media release
Safe Work Australia news
Crystalline silica exposure standard reduced by half
Federal Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has made the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Silica Workplace Exposure Standards) Regulations 2020 to halve the exposure threshold for respirable crystalline silica in workplaces covered by the Commonwealth jurisdiction's Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
The new threshold of an eight-hour time-weighted average of 0.05mg per cubic metre will take effect on 1 July. The Amendment Regulations define crystalline silica as respirable dust from the chemicals cristobalite, quartz, tridymite and tripoli.
The Northern Territory has also announced it is halving the exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica on 1 July, in line with recent decisions by the ACT, NSW and South Australia. Victoria adopted the reduced standard before issuing the Compliance Code for Silica, in February this year. In August last year, Safe Work Australia members voted to implement the new exposure threshold by late 2022, but the country's WHS ministers subsequently agreed to adopt it as soon as practicable.
In August 2018, the VTHC, as part of its Silica campaign, released an approved safety standard for silica exposure of 0.025mg/m3 - at a time when Australia's standard was four times that. The United States had implemented that exposure standard some time before. See our information page on Silica. Source: OHSAlert
New translated guidance for working with silica
The working with silica guide has been translated into six languages and will help protect those who work with silica or products containing silica.
Working with natural and engineered stone, asphalt, concrete, bricks or pavers can expose workers to silica dust. This guide provides information about reducing exposure to silica dust when working with silica and silica containing products. It will help persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to understand and make decisions about protecting their workers from exposure to silica dust.
The guide for Working with silica and silica containing products is now available in:
A reminder that Safe Work Australia has published a large amount of COVID-19 information for specific industries and workplaces. From this page there is information on vulnerable workers, mental health, working from home, cleaning and more. Some of the information is available in a large number of other languages - go to this page.
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work Australia has not updated its workplace fatality statistics since the last edition: as of June 18 there had been 86 worker fatalities notified to the national body. The fatalities this year have been in the following sectors:
- 26 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 15 in Construction
- 15 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 10 in Public administration & safety
- 9 in Manufacturing
- 4 in Mining
- 2 in Arts & recreation services
- 2 in 'other services'
- 1 in Accommodation & food services
- 1 in Retail trade
- 1 in Health care & social assistance
To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.