Quarry Operator Charged Over Silica Exposure

A quarry operator in Victoria has been charged with six separate offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act after workers were exposed to respirable crystalline silica.

The case highlights the legal ramifications of hazard exposure at worksites.

WorkSafe Victoria has charged Boral Resources (Vic) Pty Ltd with:

  • Two contraventions of section 21(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, when it failed to provide and maintain systems of work that were, so far as was reasonably practicable, safe and without health risks.
  • Contravening section 21(2)(e) of the OHS Act, when it failed to supervise workers to enable them to perform their work in a way that was safe and without health risks.
  • Three contraventions of section 26 of the OHS Act, when it failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe and without health risk.

The charges follow a WorkSafe investigation into work practices at the quarry between January 2016 and November 2019.

WorkSafe alleges the company failed to implement control measures, including the use of respiratory protective equipment, to reduce the risk of workers being exposed to dust generated during blasting, crushing, mixing, screening and transferring quarried rock.

It is further alleged the company failed to control the risk despite obtaining air monitoring results which indicated the dust contained respirable crystalline silica in excess of the Workplace Exposure Standards for airborne contaminants that could cause severe injury or death to workers at the quarry.

The case was scheduled for a filing hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court last month. 

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