The Andrews Labor Government is calling on the Federal Government to show leadership and support Victoria’s position on significantly lowering the exposure standard to crystalline silica to prevent the deadly lung disease silicosis.
WorkSafe Victoria will join its state and territory counterparts and Safe Work Australia in Sydney today to make a decision about the Australian silica workplace exposure standard.
The exposure standard is currently 0.1 mg/m3 over an eight-hour day. The United States standard is 0.025 mg/m3 over an eight-hour day.
The Labor Government has been advocating for reducing the Australian silica workplace exposure standard to 0.02mg/m3 over an eight-hour day.
Silicosis can be a deadly disease that is contracted from exposure to crystalline silica that is found in engineered stone, quarries, mining and construction.
The disease is more prevalent among stonemasons who are at a higher risk of developing silica due to the cutting and polishing of artificial stone benchtops which contain high concentrations of silica.
Earlier this year, the Labor Government launched a comprehensive action plan to address and prevent unsafe silica exposure. The Government’s initiatives include:
- A compliance and enforcement blitz targeting over 300 high-risk workplaces – focusing on stonemasonry workshops to prevent the deadly lung disease silicosis
- A state-wide ban on uncontrolled dry cutting of artificial engineered stone
- Free health screening for Victoria’s 1400 stonemasons
- A tough new compliance code for businesses working with silica
- An awareness campaign to highlight the risks of working with engineered stone
- A summit for GPs and medical specialists, and education seminars for those in the stonemasonry industry and health sector in August
Quotes attributable to Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy
“Silicosis is a dangerous and deadly disease that is preventable. We need the Federal Government to show leadership to set a health based national standard to protect our workers from exposure to unsafe levels of silica.”
“We’re doing what we can in Victoria to encourage safer workplaces, but we need a national approach if we’re going to keep people safe.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020