Companies are being urged to check their worksites for crystalline silica dust after an Australian quarrying company was fined over the issue at a Montrose quarry.
Boral Resources faced Melbourne Magistrates’ court and pleaded guilty to the charge following a WorkSafe investigation in 2019.
WorkSafe investigators found the dust generated from the duties at the Montrose site – including blasting, crushing and screening – could have been a potential hazard.
Boral Resources’ atmospheric monitoring confirmed several workers were exposed to levels of respirable crystalline silica which were above workplace exposure standards.
The court found that it was reasonably practicable for Boral to have reduced the risk of crystalline silica exposure, by requiring workers to wear appropriate and fit tested personal protective equipment and providing supervision to ensure workers did so.
WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety Dr Narelle Beer said that silicosis formed from exposure to crystalline silicacrystalline silica was an “insidious and incurable” disease.
WorkSafe recommends consulting with workers to identify hazards, regularly cleaning work areas, ensuring any areas of high-risk are recorded, conducting atmospheric monitoring and enclosing dust-generating areas where possible to reduce the potential harm.
Other methods include providing an airborne dust suppression or extraction system, ensuring silica content on the site is known and providing respiratory equipment to workers and customers.
Information and instruction on the health risks and proper control methods to workers completing high risk crystalline silica work should be provided to all workers where exposure to crystalline silica is a risk.
Boral was fined $180,000 and ordered to pay costs.