Managing silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing Code of Practice

Managing silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing Code of Practice

The Queensland Government has recently introduced a new safety Code of Practice, Managing Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust Exposure in Construction and the Manufacturing of Construction Elements, which will have considerable reference to building and manufacturing employers.

The Code commences in Queensland on 1 May 2023.

The Code is designed to provide guidance to employers and duty holders on how to meet the minimum safety legislative requirements to eliminate or minimise exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS), a chemical that poses significant health risks to humans if exposed.

RCS is a common mineral found commonly in many building materials, including:

  • Bricks, blocks, pavers, tiles and mortar;

  • Concrete and cement, including products such as fibre-cement sheeting and autoclaved-aerated concrete;

  • Engineered stone; and

  • Most rocks, sands, and clays.

RCS can be generated by a range of common building tasks, including cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, polishing, scabbling or crushing. It poses significant risks to people as it is easy to breathe in, cannot be seen by the naked eye, and can stay airborne for several hours.

Anyone who inhales RCS can potentially contract silicosis, an incurable lung disease that often leads to significant disability or death. . Typical silicosis symptoms include shortness of breath, severe cough, or fatigue.

The Code recommends that duty holders adopt the following minimum standards:

  • Using water suppression and other methods to prevent silica dust from being generated or released into the air;

  • Using appropriate respiratory protective equipment;

  • Using exposure data from air monitoring to check whether dust controls are effective;

  • Providing health monitoring to at-risk workers; and

  • At all times, consult with workers when identifying silica risks and implementing appropriate controls.

The Code includes a very useful controls table in section 2.1.

Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements Code of Practice 2022

For queries about Codes of Practice, workplace health and safety, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW  or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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