Crystalline silica

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Uncontrolled cutting and grinding of materials containing crystalline silica presents a serious risk to health

Uncontrolled cutting, grinding or drilling of products or materials containing crystalline silica can generate hazardous levels of airborne dust.

Breathing in this dust, usually over several years, leads to serious and fatal lung disease such as silicosis.

Inspectors can issue prohibition notices to stop you from doing work that generates high levels of silica dust. If you don't comply with a prohibition notice, PCBUs (employers) can face penalties up to $100,000.

You must use water, dust extraction systems on portable tools, or adopt other methods that eliminate or minimise the generation of silica dust.

If you are a fabricator or installer of manufactured stone materials, on-the-spot fines of $3,600 will also be issued for uncontrolled cutting, grinding, drilling and polishing.

Mandatory exposure standards

From 1 July 2020:

  • the workplace exposure standard (WES) for silica is 0.05mg/m3 (eight hour time-weighted average)

  • on-the-spot fines apply for PCBUs failing to notify SafeWork NSW of an adverse health monitoring report.

Notification of silicosis diagnosis

Medical practitioners must notify NSW Health when they diagnose a case of silicosis.

More information on Notification of a silicosis diagnosis.

How to protect yourself and workers

What are we doing about silica and other dust hazards?

Silicosis safety video

Health monitoring

Manufactured stone industry

More about crystalline silica

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