A quorum of Work Health and Safety ministers across Australian States and Territories have agreed to halve the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica to a time-weighted average of 0.05mg/m3 over an eight-hour day. The level follows proposals from Safe Work Australia in 2019, which ratified a new national exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica to be reduced from 0.1 mg/m3 by 50 per cent.
Victoria has gone further, having banned dry cutting of engineered stone and establishing a health surveillance program for an estimated 1,400 stonemasons across the state. The Government is also campaigning for exposure levels to be further reduced to below 0.02mg/m3.
Employers are encouraged to ensure proper face mask respirators and ventilation protections are provided to their workforce. Please note that to ensure maximum levels of protection, a clean shave policy must be enacted by the employer to ensure an employee as a ‘complete seal’ of protection from the mask.
Further information on exposure standards for airborne contaminants can be found: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1912/workplace-exposure-standards-airborne-contaminants.pdf