The NSW Government’s Silicosis Reduction Strategy is now in effect throughout the state, marking the most comprehensive reforms to reduce silica exposure and related diseases.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson has explained the importance of making silicosis a scheduled medical condition, allowing healthcare providers in NSW to alert health authorities in identifying cases and providing SafeWork NSW with case data.
“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.”
NSW is also one of the first states to introduce a new minimum silica workplace exposure standard, from the previous level of 0.1 mg/m3, the standard will now be 0.05mg/m3 (eight-hour time-weighted average) to protect employees.
“NSW is proud to be leading the way in silicosis reduction by introducing a new workplace exposure standard more than two years before the nationally agreed start date.”
Mr Anderson also took the opportunity to remind workers and employers alike that uncontrolled dry cutting or grinding of both natural and manufactured stone products is banned in NSW, and those caught flouting the rules could face a maximum penalty of $30,000.
“We know dry cutting is a key cause of silica exposure, and it’s highly preventable by wet cutting or using the right dust capturing measures.”
The new regulations are part of a joint approach between the government, health authorities and workplace regulators.