The new national workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica takes effect on July 1.

Exposure standards are mandatory legal limits set to minimise exposure to airborne contaminants in the workplace to protect the health of workers.

The new exposure standard halves the amount of respirable crystalline silica a worker can be exposed to over an eight-hour shift, from 0.1 mg/m3 to 0.05 mg/m3.

Authorities say the risks of silica dust can be controlled with these steps;

  • Use a product with no silica content, and if that is not possible use a product with the lowest content
  • Always wear appropriate PPE
  • Use engineered solutions which minimise dust generation and the risk of exposure such as local exhaust ventilation, water suppression (wet cutting) or using tools with dust collection attachments
  • Clean up regularly to stop any dust spreading
  • Conduct regular air monitors
  • Provide health monitoring for workers

Additionally, the updates working with silica guide has been translated into six languages, Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Greek, Italian, and Vietnamese.

More information is available at Safe Work Australia.