SafeWork SA has issued a report into a compliance campaign it undertook recently examining businesses working with silica-containing materials, highlighting a failure to conduct air monitoring as the largest area of non-compliance.
From 1 October 2020 to 1 April 2021, SafeWork SA conducted 199 site visits, and 71 compliance audits focused on respirable crystalline silica in the fabrication, construction, and mining industries.
The campaign aimed to ensure compliance had been maintained. Businesses and operators continued to understand their responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of their workers and others, and controls to eliminate or reduce risk remained in place.
A total of 102 Statutory Notices were issued where breaches of the work health and safety legislation were identified, consisting of 95 Improvement Notices and 7 Prohibition Notices.
The largest area of non-compliance identified in the campaign was the failure to conduct air monitoring to determine the airborne concentration of substances or mixtures to which a workplace exposure limit (WEL) applies.
Thirty stone benchtop PCBUs were audited, resulting in the issue of 69 Statutory Notices, the majority of which were for failing to conduct air monitoring, identifying the hazards of RCS, and implementing control measures.
Eight monumental stone mason PCBUs were audited, resulting in the issue of 8 Statutory Notices, the majority of which were for failure to carry out air monitoring and implement controls to keep exposure under the WEL for RCS.
Eleven construction PCBUs were audited, resulting in the issue of 11 Statutory Notices for failing to ensure respiratory protective equipment (RPE) was a suitable size and fit for workers to use and wear and to minimise the risks associated with exposure to airborne particulates.
Twenty two mining and quarrying PCBUs were audited, resulting in the issue of 14 Statutory Notices for failure to conduct air monitoring and implement controls to keep exposure under the WEL for RCS.
The report recommended that SafeWork SA:
- continues to provide information and education to PCBUs in accordance with the South Australian Government Strategy for Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure Awareness and Reduction 2020
- communicates the outcome of the campaign to internal and external stakeholders
- maintains a focus on RCS exposure during the 2021 SWMS compliance campaign as the
audits identified an improvement in the way construction PCBUs manage HRCW
- conducts a review of data to identify any stone benchtop industry trends associated with exposure to RCS in 12 months and conducts another compliance campaign if improvements are not being maintained.
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