All employers are under a general duty to provide a safe workplace. A dusty work environment is known to be linked to chronic respiratory health issues. There are two general types of dust:
Silica (SiO2) is a naturally occurring widely abundant mineral that forms the major component of most rocks and soils. There are non-crystalline and crystalline forms of silicon dioxide. In dry form, only fine crystalline silica constitutes a chronic respirable dust hazard, since its inhalation as airborne dust could give rise to silicosis and lung cancer. The non-crystalline form of silica does not cause this kind of lung damage.
There are recommended limits for employee exposure to inhalable dust and respirable dust, fibres, and crystalline silica. There is no specific recommended exposure limits for non-specific respirable dust, however the position paper from the AIOH suggests an exposure limit that is commonly used. If it is suspected that employees may be exposed to excessive dust levels, monitoring will confirm the exposure and assist in identifying problem locations and developing control strategies.
Within the Victorian Occupational and Health and Safety Regulations released in November 2021, extra requirements have been mandated for stonemasons, along with businesses working with products containing crystalline silica.
For stonemasons the business will need to apply for an engineering stone licence. Some of the requirements for this include undertaking atmospheric monitoring, providing control plans and documented risk assessments, and providing training for employees in the correct use of respiratory protection along with the risks involved with the tasks conducted and the control measures implemented. A 1 year transitional period between November 2021 and November 2022 has been set up to enable businesses to develop control plans to apply for licences.
For businesses working with products containing crystalline silica, if dust is generated from these products which expose employees to more than half the exposure standard, it is classed as high risk crystalline silica work. For all high-risk crystalline silica work, a hazard control statement must be prepared which outlines the works to be conducted, states hazards and risks and how the control measures will be implemented. This will come into effect in May 2022.
Businesses who mine or produce products with crystalline silica need to list a percentage content of crystalline silica on the safety data sheet, along with the name and contact details of the manufacturer or importer to be provided to purchasers of the product.
HAZCON can assist you to:
Additionally, depending upon the location and type of workplace, along with any chemicals that may be used during processes within your facility, further analysis may be needed to determine if any constituents of the dust may be having an impact on employee health. This can include additives used within processes on site, along with other sources such as lead or chromium dust from working on old structures. HAZCON can tailor and develop an assessment to determine employees exposure to ensure they do not exceed any workplace exposure standards.
All HAZCON occupational hygiene works and recommendations to clients are undertaken to provide guidance to employers as to their duties to comply with appropriate Victorian Legislation, relevant Australian Standards and best practice.
Dust monitoring is carried out in accordance with the:
And with reference to:
If you would like more information or a quote for dust assessment please Contact Us
Hygiene monitoring encompasses a host of areas that HAZCON has specific expertise, including;