A number of Gold Coast stone benchtop fabricators have raised the ire of the safety watchdog after it was revealed that they’re still exposing workers to “unacceptable” levels of crystalline silica in the workplace.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued 99 enforcement actions to companies across the Gold Coast region following a safety audit that began in August 2020 through to May this year.
In total, 158 workplaces were investigated by WHS QLD during that period, and 45 of those were on the Gold Coast. The investigations showed widespread noncompliance with the stone benchtop code of practice.
WorkCover statistics show that there are currently 198 stonemasons in Queensland with silicosis, which saw an increase of 24 cases from the previous period.
A spokeswoman explained that from the workplaces investigated, 365 enforcement actions were delivered and 99 to Gold Coast businesses. Of that number, three prohibition notices, seven infringement notices, 86 improvement notices, and three immediate compliance notices were given to companies.
WHS QLD has undertaken 72 follow up visits since the audit period finished in May.
A spokeswoman said that “the Queensland government is continuing its nation-leading response for workers with occupational dust lung disease, particularly those with coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) and silicosis, by offering a $5m medical research grant over four years from 2021 to 2023.”
“A code of practice is also being developed for the management of silica in the construction industry.”