Elise Archer,Minister for Building and Construction
The Hodgman majority Liberal Government is committed to keeping Tasmanians safe and I am pleased a new campaign is underway to raise awareness about the potentially deadly dangers of silica dust.
A key element of the campaign is a television commercial which warns Tasmanians that inhaling even a tiny amount of silica dust can cause deadly silicosis.
In particular, it encourages people who are planning home renovations, repairs or building work, to understand the importance of being silica safe before they start work.
There have been nine claims for workers compensation for silicosis in the State since 1990, with five of those lodged since October last year by workers engaged in manufacturing engineered stone benchtops.
Crystalline silica (silica) is found in sand, stone, concrete and mortar and is also used to make a variety of products, including composite stone used to fabricate kitchen and bathroom benchtops, bricks, tiles and some plastics.
When products that contain silica are cut, crushed, drilled, polished, sawed or ground, dust particles are generated that are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and cause illness or disease, including silicosis. The hidden danger of silica dust could easily be overlooked in uncontrolled environments, such as undertaking DIY projects or home renovations.
Most businesses already manage silica dust risk in the workplace as required by law, however the recent increase in claims raised concerns that awareness around the issue could be improved. As a result, this comprehensive awareness campaign has been developed by the WorkCover Tasmania Board and WorkSafe Tasmania.
The campaign will run until January 2020 and a dedicated WorkSafe silica dust webpage can be found at www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/silicasafe.