From July 1, the NSW Government’s Silicosis Reduction Strategy will come into effect, introducing the most comprehensive series of reforms in Australia to stamp out the deadly lung disease.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the changes make silicosis a scheduled medical condition, enabling NSW medical practitioners to notify NSW Health of identified cases of silicosis, and provide this information to SafeWork NSW.
“Silicosis is an incredibly painful and aggressive disease, but it is also preventable. We are taking every step possible to protect workers in NSW from being exposed to lethal levels of silica,” Mr Anderson said.
“Making silicosis a notifiable disease is the next step in our journey to stamp out silicosis cases in this state.
“Once NSW Health notifies SafeWork NSW of cases, our inspectors can target their compliance and enforcement efforts based on each diagnosed individual’s current or previous workplaces and ultimately prevent further cases.”
NSW will be also one of the first states to introduce a new minimum silica workplace exposure standard of 0.05mg/m3 (eight-hour time-weighted average) to protect employees on site, a significant drop from the previous level of 0.1 mg/m3.
“NSW is proud to be leading the way in silicosis reduction by introducing a new workplace exposure standard more than two years before the nationally agreed start date.”
Mr Anderson also announced that uncontrolled dry cutting and grinding of stone and manufactured stone is banned in NSW, and a maximum penalty of $30,000 will be issued for non-complying corporations.
“We know dry cutting is a key cause of silica exposure, and it’s highly preventable by wet cutting or using the right dust capturing measures.”
SafeWork has worked closely with the manufactured stone industry and NSW Health on the implementation of the new Silicosis Reduction Strategy.
“Thanks to this comprehensive compliance program including on-the-spot fines, a reduction in the exposure standard and the requirement to notify silicosis cases, we will put a stop to the increase in cases and ensure that people in NSW are protected,” Mr Anderson concluded.