SWA releases resources for halved silica dust WES

Tuesday, 22 September, 2020

SWA releases resources for halved silica dust WES

The workplace exposure standard (WES) for respirable crystalline silica (silica dust) has been halved. People working with materials like engineered stone, concrete or riles are encouraged to use the new silica checklist to see if they need to implement additional control measures in their workplace, to ensure the WES is not exceeded. Safe Work Australia has published information to help persons conducted a business or undertaking (for example, employers or small business owners) understand the changes to the WES for silica dust, and to assess and effectively manage the risks of silica dust in their workplace.

Safe Work Australia Chief Executive Officer Michelle Baxter said the new checklist will help those who work with silica ensure the recently reduced WES for silica dust is not exceeded in their workplace.

“Employers and small businesses can use the practical checklist to assess the risk of silica dust at their workplace and learn how to manage silica dust by implementing control measures; for example, using wet cutting methods that generate less dust or using products containing less silica. The checklist also includes helpful questions for employers to consider around implementing, maintaining and reviewing the control measures they have put in place,” said Baxter.

The WES for silica dust has halved from an eight-hour time-weighted average of 0.1 mg/m3 to 0.05 mg/m3. The reduced silica dust WES was implemented in most jurisdictions from 1 July 2020. The national guide, ‘Working with silica and silica containing products’, explains what you must do to keep workers safe from the risks of silica dust. The guide has been translated into six languages for those who speak a language other than English.

“I encourage those who work with silica or products containing silica, including concrete and tiles, to use the checklist and identify how they can best protect their workers from exposure,” said Baxter.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Gajus

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