Company fined as workers exposed to silica dust

Wednesday, 15 June, 2022

Company fined as workers exposed to silica dust

A Dandenong stonemasonry company has been convicted and fined a total of $25,000 after failing to control deadly risks associated with exposure to silica dust. Hilton Stone Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to two rolled-up charges of failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment. The company was fined $12,500 for failing to provide proper controls to reduce the risk of exposure to silica dust and a further $12,500 for failing to have required guarding on a power saw. The company was also ordered to pay costs of $6157.

In March 2020, a WorkSafe inspector visited Hilton Stone as part of WorkSafe Victoria’s inspection focus on reducing the risks of exposure to crystalline silica in the workplace. The inspector found that equipment used to cut, grind or polish engineered stone did not have controls in place such as an integrated water delivery system to suppress silica dust, an on-tool extraction system to remove airborne particles, personal protective equipment or health monitoring checks of workers.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it is important to protect workers from exposure to crystalline silica, as exposure can lead to deadly diseases such as silicosis, kidney disease, lung cancer and autoimmune diseases. “Employers must ensure all safety measures are in place so workers aren’t exposed to levels of silica dust that are above the exposure standard. WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute any duty holder who fails to do all that they can to protect their workers from the harmful dust,” said Dr Beer.

WorkSafe advises employers to protect workers from the dangers of crystalline silica exposure by providing tools with water suppression, providing on-tool extraction, and providing fit-for-purpose respirators and appropriate PPE. Employers should also carry out air monitoring and ensure that workers undergo an annual health check.

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