We're two years into our five year strategy to reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals, with formaldehyde and silica the top two focus areas.
The work so far
- We aim to interact with over 9,000 businesses by 2022, with 3,867 achieved.
- We’ve completed 523 manufactured stone visits at the 246 fabrication sites in NSW, and have had 448 interactions in other industries that work with silica.
- We held Manufactured Stone Industry forums in February 2019, a cross-industry silica symposium in May a state-wide roadshow from August to October, and have run over 40 industry presentations and a Dust Control Forum.
- We established a Manufactured Stone Industry Taskforce, which ran from July 2018 until June 2019.
- Our NSW Centre for Work Health and Safety (WHS) is currently conducting research into wearable detectors that could alert workers of the presence of silica dust.
- iCare are supporting the SafeWork NSW strategy and have conducted lung screening for 3563 workers last financial year 2018/19.
- 617 notices have been issued, of which 574 were improvement notices and 39 were prohibition notices.
- 498 of the 574 improvement notices relate to silica, and follow-up visits indicate 80 per cent (458) have fully complied with the notice requirements. Follow-up visits are being completed for the remaining 116, noting the majority of these relate to health monitoring (screening) and we are awaiting notification from icare.
- 21 of the 39 prohibition notices relate to silica. All prohibition notices have been followed up, with three silica prohibitions yet to be complied with. Two of these relate to the removal and replacement of equipment, with the third relating to revised cleaning procedures/processes. Until the work is completed and the notices are complied, the prohibition notices remain. Further follow-up visits are scheduled for these sites.
- SafeWork NSW issues a prohibition notice whenever it encounters uncontrolled dry cutting, to ensure workers are working safely with all materials that contain silica.
- A prohibition notice directs a business to immediately stop work and to change the way in which the work is to be undertaken to prevent illness or injury. A prohibition is a “ban,” meaning the recipient is prohibited from doing that particular activity again and must undertake the work in another (safe) way. Prohibition notices are never lifted, such that the original activity can never lawfully be repeated. Failure to comply can result in penalties of up to $100,000.
Things to help you
- We’ve just increased the rebate for manufactured stone sites from $500 to $1000, with the $500 small business rebate available for all other industries. These rebates can be used towards the purchase of safety items to reduce silica dust exposure.
- Our video safety alert on working with crystalline silica gives you practical tips on how to keep you and your workers safe.
- You can also look at our health monitoring webinar, which helps you understand when health monitoring is required and the regulatory requirements.