The new national workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica - takes effect from 1 July 2020

The workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica has been halved - and employers need to understand what they need to do.

The new national workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica - takes effect from 1 July 2020

What are the health risks of exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust?

Respirable crystalline silica dust is so fine you usually can’t see it. It can stay airborne for long periods of time and easily be inhaled deep into the lungs. Breathing in respirable crystalline silica dust can cause serious lung diseases including silicosis and lung cancer as well as chronic renal disease and autoimmune disorders.

What is the new national workplace exposure standard?

The national workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica has been halved from an eight hour time-weighted average airborne concentration of 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) to 0.05 mg/m3.

What does this mean for employers?

Employers must manage worker exposure to dust and meet existing duties and obligations under Queensland work health and safety legislation. This means:

  • using higher order controls (including elimination, engineering, isolation and substitution)
  • air monitoring
  • health monitoring / health surveillance
  • training for workers
  • appropriate respiratory protective equipment.

Our specialist Occupational and Environmental Physicians (OEPs) can provide advice on health monitoring and education for your workers.

Our OEPs support the tightened workplace standard that will continue to prevent stonemasons and other employees working in an atmosphere with dust that will have any effect on their health and well being.

For more information, the team a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland have put together some useful resources for workplaces and workers.

Book an appointment with
one of our practitioners