The start of the new financial year heralded some significant changes to NSW Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations as part of NSW Government’s Silicosis Reduction Strategy.
Those in the building and construction industry, demolition, excavation, concreting and stone-cutting and polishing may need to be aware of their obligations regarding crystalline silica exposure to their employees.
For those working in environments that involve exposure to crystalline silica, it is compulsory to perform silica health surveillance medical examinations. An initial baseline assessment must be performed, including a lung function test and a chest X-Ray (performed to International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard). The medical must be performed each year after that, and chest X-Ray at least after 5years, or according to exposure and clinical judgement.
IMMEX can perform these assessments.
Changes to Crystalline Silica exposure standards
The new reforms that came into force on July 1 regarding changes to crystalline silica exposure standards are:
- The workplace exposure standard (WES) for silica has been halved from 0.1mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3 (eight-hour time-weighted average)
- On-the-spot fines of up to $30,000 can now be issued by inspectors for uncontrolled dry-cutting of manufactured stone
- Silicosis has been named as a scheduled medical condition
- This means that medical practitioners are compelled to notify NSW Health and SafeWork NSW when a case of silicosis is diagnosed
- A penalty will apply for failure by a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to notify SafeWork NSW of an adverse health monitoring report
You may need to engage an occupational hygienist to check the amount of silica exposure to your employees in your workplaces.
If you would like to book a Silica Medical Assessment for your employees or if you want to discuss anything relating to the change in regulations and the effect it may have on your business, contact us on 02 93195999 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org