New crystalline silica regulations see extension of dry cutting ban, new safety standards

New crystalline silica regulations see extension of dry cutting ban, new safety standards

Crystalline silica is often contained in products like engineered stone, ceramic tiles, bricks, marble and concrete, and the risks associated with working with it can result in fatal lung diseases, including silicosis.

WorkSafe Victoria accepted 73 claims last year from workers who have contracted silicosis as a result of workplace exposure, with five recorded fatalities.

New changes to safety legislation in Victoria now mean that any business that works with silica or products likely to contain it myst identify and document the work, as well as the risk control measures they have in place.

The new legislation came into effect on the 15th of May and will affect a range of industries, including large-scale construction like tunnelling, general construction work and mining industries like quarrying.

Employers are also required to provide instruction and safety training to any job applicants likely to be employed in high-risk crystalline silica work.

The changes also extend to manufacturers and suppliers of products that contain silica, who are now required to provide a statement detailing the crystalline silica percentage in products, in addition to safe handling procedures and exposure controls.

The regulations also extend the ban on uncontrolled dry-cutting, grinding or polishing of engineered stone products, which were first introduced in 2019.

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