Nation leading program to fight silicosis

A blitz on silicosis has resulted in 114 notices to cease work or improve practices, as part of a nation leading NSW Government program to combat the terrible disease.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said SafeWork inspectors launched the blitz in October 2017, and had already undertaken 358 compliance visits across NSW. 

“Silicosis is an awful disease that can have a huge impact on businesses and families across the State,” Mr Kean said.

“We identified it as a major concern more than a year ago and developed a comprehensive five-year strategy to address the issue, which includes training resources, business rebates, conducting research and reviewing regulations.

“SafeWork has also been out on the beat conducting inspections, and making sure anyone working with silica has the correct safety protections in place.

“SafeWork is taking a zero tolerance approach as it visits every manufactured stone business in NSW. If they are doing uncontrolled dry cutting they will receive a prohibition notice to cease work immediately and improve their safety practices.”

Of the 114 notices issued by SafeWork so far, 91 were to manufactured stone businesses, to improve processes, personal protective equipment and health monitoring.

Mr Kean said SafeWork was also launching an advertising awareness campaign as part of its 2017-2022 Chemicals Strategy, targeting tradies and businesses working with silica.

“This campaign encourages the industry to control silica dust in the workplace through good ventilation, wet cutting and using the right safety masks for the job,” Mr Kean said.

It comes as the NSW Manufactured Stone Industry Taskforce prepares an interim report exploring how to further improve the management of silica across the State.

“I look forward to receiving the report and remain committed to ensuring all businesses and employees are properly trained and supported to work with silica,” Mr Kean said.

Crystalline silica, or quartz, is found in natural and manufactured stone as well as brick, tile and concrete building products.

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