26 September 2023

Safer silicosis rules dusted off

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Protections for workers in the building, construction and stonemasonry sectors are to be improved following new workplace safety standards for silica dust coming into effect on 1 July.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Suzanne Orr said the revised workplace exposure standard was crucial to helping protect people working with products containing silica.

“Although the new nationally agreed workplace exposure standard of 0.05mg/m3 effectively halves the previous standard, the ACT Government is encouraging businesses to go lower as we know it is still possible at this level for workers to develop adverse health conditions such as silicosis,” Ms Orr said.

“The recommended health-based exposure standard for silica dust is actually 0.02mg/m3,” she said.

“As technology is better able to measure the lower standard of 0.02mg/m3, national work health and safety requirements should be decreased.”

Ms Orr said the ACT would work closely with other jurisdictions to further reduce workplace exposure standards over the next two years.

Commissioner for Work Health and Safety, Jacqueline Agius said every worker had the right to a safe and regulated work environment and ensuring the risks posed by silica dust exposure were minimised was of paramount importance to the Commission.

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