The New South Wales Government has, this month, supported a recommendation from Safe Work Australia to halve the acceptable level of exposure to workers of silica dust from 0.1 to 0.05mg/m³.
The Government will also support ongoing research by Safe Work Australia into whether a further lowering of the exposure level to 0.02mg/m³ is achievable.
To help businesses adhere to the new standard and protect workers, the Government is also doubling the existing $500 equipment rebate to $1000 for eligible businesses.
Silica dust is a by-product created when products made using crystalline silica – like manufactured stone, bricks and concrete – is cut, sanded, drilled into or otherwise disturbed in some form.
The dust, much like asbestos, is harmful to a person’s health when inhaled and exposure can lead to contracting silicosis.
Silicosis is a scarring of the lung tissue caused by the presence of dust particles. As the condition worsens, symptoms will move from a coughs and chest pains to a person having trouble eating, sleeping or simply walking up a flight of stairs due to decreased lung health.
The condition also increases your chance of contracting other breathing-related illnesses like tuberculosis, emphysema and lung cancer.
The best way for people to reduce their risk of contracting silicosis through exposure to silica dust is to undertake training in working safely with manufactured stone, concrete, bricks and other substances made of silica.