Compliance inspections to protect NSW workers from silicosis

Tuesday, 18 June, 2024

Compliance inspections to protect NSW workers from silicosis

The NSW Government will put more SafeWork NSW inspectors on the ground to enforce the engineered stone ban as it comes into effect on 1 July 2024. In addition to the ban, there will be stronger regulation of all other materials containing crystalline silica. The boost to compliance inspections in the engineered stone industry will see more inspectors carrying out site visits and issuing penalties to any non-complaint operators.

SafeWork NSW recently completed a six-month Silica in Construction workplace visit program, in which inspectors conducted 176 visits to relevant businesses and issued 142 notices. The NSW Government also plans to protect workers from the dangers of exposure to silica by providing additional program staff to provide education tools and programs to support impacted industries. The government will also develop new notification systems for businesses doing processing work on existing engineered stone in homes and workplaces.

Silicosis, caused by breathing in small particles of silica dust, has devastating effects on the lungs and is prevalent in the engineered stone industry. It is preventable, therefore more inspectors and monitoring systems will help support the implementation of the national ban to remove dangerous exposure to silica dust from engineered stone, potentially saving lives in the process.

The NSW Government has also delivered $5 million in critical funding for silicosis research and a patient support program for individuals and their families who are navigating the health risks associated with exposure to silica dust. A Silica Worker Register is also being established from the Workers Compensation Operational Fund, to track at-risk workers.

“Silicosis is preventable and all workers who are at risk of silicosis will now be registered so that their health is tracked for their lifetime. The Minns government is investing in worker safety as a priority because it is a fundamental right of every worker to go to work and come home safely to their loved ones at the end of the day,” said Sophie Cotsis, Minister for Work Health and Safety.

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