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Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements Code of Practice 2022

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has approved Queensland’s new Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements Code of Practice 2022 (PDF, 1.71 MB)

The new Code is Australia’s first silica dust code of practice for the construction industry and will commence in Queensland on 1 May 2023. It applies to all construction work as well as the manufacturing of materials such as bricks, blocks, tiles, mortar and concrete.

The Code outlines how duty holders can meet the requirements of Queensland’s work health and safety legislation, including eliminating or minimising exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) at work by:

  • using tried and tested dust control methods that prevent silica dust from being generated or being released into the air, including water suppression and on-tool dust extraction
  • using appropriate respirable protective equipment to safeguard at-risk workers
  • using exposure data from air monitoring to check dust controls are effective
  • providing health monitoring to at-risk workers, with clearly defined triggers for testing based on level of risk
  • consulting with workers, as well as training, education, instruction and supervision of workers.

The Code was developed in close consultation with workers, employers and technical experts across Queensland, building on international best practice to ensure silica dust is managed safely and workers are protected in the construction industry and the manufacturing of construction materials.

The Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements Code of Practice 2022 (the Code) is an approved code of practice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

The Code is a practical guide on how to meet your legislative obligations to manage the risk of exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in construction work, and the manufacturing of construction elements.

Under section 26A of the WHS Act, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must:

  • comply with an approved code of practice; or
  • manage hazards and risks arising from the work carried out as part of the business or undertaking in a way that is different to the code but provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety than the standard required in the code.

Further information on the role of approved codes of practice in Queensland is provided in the Foreword to the Code.

Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in many building materials, such as:

  • bricks, blocks, pavers, tiles and mortar
  • concrete and cement, including products such as fibre-cement sheeting and autoclaved-aerated concrete
  • most rocks, sands, and clays.

Tasks such as cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, polishing, scabbling or crushing materials that contain crystalline silica can generate respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

RCS particles are so small they cannot be seen under ordinary lighting and stay airborne long after larger particles have settled to the ground – the small particle size means it is easily inhaled deep into the lungs (<10 µm).

Inhaling RCS can lead to silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death. RCS can also contribute to lung cancer, renal cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Silicosis usually follows exposure to RCS over many years, but extremely high exposures across the short-term can cause it to develop rapidly.

The symptoms of silicosis include:

  • shortness of breath
  • severe cough
  • weakness.

The definition of construction work is set down in section 289 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation):

WHS Regulation section 289(1): Construction work means any work carried out in connection with the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting-out, commissioning, renovation, repair, maintenance, refurbishment, demolition, decommissioning or dismantling of a structure.

WHS Regulation section 289(2): Construction work includes the following:

  1. any installation or testing carried out in connection with an activity mentioned in subsection (1);
  2. the removal from the workplace of any product or waste resulting from demolition;
  3. the prefabrication or testing of elements, at a place specifically established for the construction work, for use in construction work;
  4. the assembly of prefabricated elements to form a structure, or the disassembly of prefabricated elements forming part of a structure;
  5. the installation, testing or maintenance of an essential service in relation to a structure;
  6. any work connected with an excavation;
  7. any work connected with any preparatory work or site preparation (including landscaping as part of site preparation) carried out in connection with an activity mentioned in subsection (1);
  8. an activity mentioned in subsection (1), that is carried out on, under or near water, including work on buoys and obstructions to navigation.

Note: Construction work that involves earthmoving (such as digging trenches or tunnelling) could involve tasks that create RCS.

This Code applies to the manufacturing of elements for use in construction work, regardless of where the manufacturing is undertaken (i.e., not limited to the manufacturing of elements on a construction site).

Relevant construction elements or materials include, but are not limited to:

  • cement, concrete and aggregates, including precast concrete products such as fibre-cement sheeting
  • bricks, tiles, blocks, pylons and pavers
  • grout, mortar, asphalt, sand and stone
  • wall panels
  • geosynthetics.

This Code does not cover the manufacturing of tools or plant for use in construction.

Note: The scope of this Code does not include the engineered and natural stone benchtop industry. That industry is covered by the Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in the stone benchtop industry Code of Practice 2019.

The Code applies to all construction work and manufacturing of construction elements, and workplaces covered by the WHS Act where this work is undertaken.

The Code concerns construction work and the manufacturing of construction elements when it involves both:

  • the use of materials that contain 1 per cent or more crystalline silica
  • tasks that generate dust containing RCS, or more RCS airborne.

The Code does not apply to some Queensland workplaces in the mining and resources industries, including quarries.

Queensland mining and resources workplaces have separate health and safety laws that are managed by Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ). Employers and workers in these industries may wish to contact RSHQ for information about the health and safety laws that apply to them.

The Code does not apply to the engineered and natural stone benchtop industry. That industry is covered by the Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in the stone benchtop industry Code of Practice 2019.

The Code commences on 1 May 2023. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) will be promoting the new Code throughout Queensland before it commences.

In the meantime, the WHS Act and WHS Regulation specify existing obligations for PCBUs to manage exposure to RCS in the workplace. These include, but are not limited to:

  • PCBU must manage risks to health and safety associated with using, handling, generating or storing a hazardous chemical (such as RCS) at work
  • PCBU must make sure no person at the workplace is exposed to RCS at a level above the workplace exposure standard
  • PCBU must make sure air monitoring is carried out if:
    • they are not certain, on reasonable grounds, the workplace exposure standard has been exceeded
    • monitoring is needed to determine if there is a risk to health.
  • PCBU must make sure health monitoring is carried out if there is an ongoing significant risk to a worker’s health from exposure to RCS
  • PCBU must make sure a safe work method statement is prepared for high risk construction work, which includes any construction work that involves a risk of RCS exposure.

Further information on existing legislative requirements is provided on the WHSQ website and in the Code.

For employers

PCBUs have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of each worker while at work.

This includes a legal duty on the PCBU to manage risks to health and safety associated with using, handling, generating or storing a hazardous chemical at work - including respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

The PCBU has other legal duties that determine how they must manage the risk of exposure to RCS, including but not limited to:

  • duty to make sure no person at the workplace is exposed to RCS at a level above the workplace exposure standard (WES)
  • duty to make sure air monitoring is carried out if:
    • they are not certain, on reasonable grounds, the workplace exposure standard has been exceeded
    • monitoring is needed to determine if there is a risk to health.
  • duty to make sure health monitoring is carried out if there is an ongoing significant risk to a worker’s health from exposure to RCS.

The Code outlines how the PCBU can manage risks associated with RCS at the workplace, in a way that meets all of the above legal requirements.

PCBUs must adopt a risk management process, including eliminating exposure to RCS, so far as is reasonably practicable, or if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate exposure to RCS, by minimising it so far as is reasonably practicable.

To meet their health and safety obligations, PCBUs need to:

  1. Identify RCS hazards - see Sections 4 and 5 of the Code.
  2. Choose the right controls - see Section 6 of the Code.
  3. Monitor and review the controls - see Sections 9 and 11 of the Code.

The Code outlines two methods for choosing the right controls:

  • Method 1: Using the controls table.
  • Method 2: Using exposure data to choose dust controls that work.

Section 2 of the Code provides flowcharts to help PCBUs work through the two methods and explains how they link to the duties related to air monitoring and health monitoring.

Method 1: Using the controls table

Appendix 4 of the Code is a controls table, outlining recommended controls for a range of common tasks in construction and manufacturing. The tasks are based on power tools and mechanised plant, as well as a number of housekeeping tasks that can make RCS airborne.

For each task, the table outlines:

  • engineering or work practice control methods
  • the respiratory protective equipment (RPE) for that task, depending on:
    • how long the shift is
    • if the task is done outdoors, or indoors / enclosed area.
  • when health monitoring is required.

If the recommended combination of control methods and RPE are used for that task, and they are used properly, the PCBU does not need to conduct air monitoring to assess the risk from that task.

For further information, see the FAQ ‘When is air monitoring required?’.

Method 2: Using exposure data to choose dust controls that work

The PCBU does not have to use the recommended controls included at Appendix 4.

If the PCBU does not use the controls table to choose dust controls, the PCBU must follow the hierarchy of controls to choose dust controls.

This means the PBCU must:

  • eliminate the risk (see Section 7.1).

If eliminating the risk of RCS is not reasonably practicable, the PCBU must use higher order controls. These include:

  • substituting the hazard to eliminate or minimise the risk (see Section 7.2)
  • isolating the hazard (see Section 7.3)
  • using engineering controls (see Section 7.4).

If the risk of RCS exposure remains after using the above controls, the PCBU must use the following controls to minimise the risk:

  • administrative controls (see Section 7.5)
  • respiratory protective equipment (see Section 7.6).

The dust controls, or combination of controls, chosen by the PCBU must keep exposure to RCS below the workplace exposure standard.

The PCBU must have an air monitoring report that provides statistically valid exposure data that shows the controls you have chosen for the task reduce exposure to RCS to below the workplace exposure standard (including RPE if required).

For further information, see the FAQ ‘When is air monitoring required?'

Many common materials used in construction and manufacturing contain crystalline silica, for example:

  • bricks
  • concrete
  • engineered stone
  • natural stone (e.g., granite or sandstone)
  • fibre cement sheets.

Common construction and manufacturing materials that contain less than one per cent crystalline silica include, but are not limited to:

  • wood
  • glass
  • metals, such as iron, steel, copper and aluminium
  • most plastics.

Section 5.1 of the Code outlines what steps the PCBU can take to identify the crystalline silica content or the materials in use. These include:

  • checking the information provided by the manufacturer, supplier, or importer (such as a technical / safety data sheet
  • contacting the manufacturer, supplier or importer for the information, if not readily available
  • having the material tested by a NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accredited facility.

If the PCBU is unable to find out whether a material does contain one per cent or more crystalline silica, the PCBU should presume that it does contain one per cent or more crystalline silica.

Construction work that involves earthmoving (such as digging trenches or tunnelling) can also involve a risk of RCS exposure, as many common materials found under the ground contain crystalline silica, such as:

  • most rocks, sands and clays
  • granite
  • sandstone.

Section 5.1 of the Code identifies a number of tests that can confirm the materials present in the earth that will be moved, processed or disturbed.

Yes. Construction work carried out in an area that may have an atmosphere contaminated with RCS is high risk construction work and will require a safe work method statement.

Section 3.1.1 of the Code provides further information on SWMS requirements, and a sample SWMS is provided in Appendix 2.

Additional information on SWMS, including for principal contractors and other duty holders, is provided on the WHSQ website.

PCBUs must consult workers when:

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks to health and safety
  • selecting and implementing suitable controls.

Workers will generally be aware of sources of RCS exposure at the workplace and may have suggestions on how to manage these hazards. Section 4 of the Code provides information on PCBU’s duty to consult workers and other duty holders.

If the workers are represented by a health and safety representative, the PCBU must involve them in the consultation.

WHSQ is Queensland’s work health and safety regulator. WHSQ works with industry, businesses, and workers to create a safe and healthy culture in Queensland places of work.

WHSQ does this by:

  • assessing compliance at the workplace with work health and safety legislative requirements
  • investigating work-related fatalities and serious injuries
  • taking appropriate enforcement action when work health and safety laws are broken, and
  • educating employees and employers on their legal obligations.

WHSQ uses a range of tools to promote compliance with the legislation and ensure duty holders eliminate or minimise exposure to the risk of illness and injury.

WHSQ inspectors provide information and advice about how to comply with health and safety laws. Inspectors also conduct workplace visits to monitor and enforce compliance.

Yes. The Code applies to PCBUs of all sizes covered by the WHS Act.

Air monitoring must be carried out to check for airborne RCS at the workplace if:

  • the PCBU is not certain, on reasonable grounds, if the workplace exposure standard has been exceeded
  • the PCBU needs to work out if there is a risk to health.

The PCBU can be certain on reasonable grounds that the workplace exposure standard has not been exceeded, if:

  • all workers doing tasks that can generate RCS at the workplace are correctly using the controls that are recommended for that task in the controls table in Appendix 4 of this Code (including RPE if required); or
  • the PCBU has an air monitoring report that provides statistically valid exposure data that shows the controls you have chosen for the task reduce exposure to RCS to below the workplace exposure standard (including RPE if required).

This means that if you make sure workers are using the controls recommended in the controls table for that task, and make sure they are using them correctly, you do not need to conduct air monitoring.

That is because the controls have been proven to be effective, through the use of statistically valid exposure data. You can also rely on statistically valid exposure data for the specific task and controls used from previous air monitoring reports, which could be provided by other business owners, manufacturers, industry associations or unions.

The duty is on the PCBU to be certain that the exposure data is statistically valid; and that it is relevant to the task, controls and conditions. If they are not, then they can’t be certain on reasonable grounds that the controls used are effective.

If the PCBU is uncertain whether the existing exposure data is statistically valid, they should consult with a competent person (e.g., a certified occupational hygienist, or a recognised equivalent competency under an international certification scheme, e.g., certified industrial hygienist).

Section 9.2 outlines who is a competent person to undertake air monitoring.

Section 9.3.1 outlines how air monitoring should be conducted, with reference to sampling methods - specifically:

  • establishment of similar exposure groups (SEGs) and the development of a personal exposure sampling plan
  • undertaking baseline personal exposure monitoring (sampling) of workers in each relevant SEG
  • undertaking periodic personal exposure monitoring.

Section 9.3.1 contains technical information and should be provided to the person who will be undertaking the air monitoring for the PCBU.

Appendix 5 outlines the minimum content for an air monitoring report.

Section 9.4 outlines the record-keeping requirements for air monitoring results.

RPE is needed if the higher order dust controls used to manage RCS exposure are not able to reduce exposure to below the workplace exposure standard.

If the PCBU does require the use of RPE at the workplace, the PCBU must ensure the RPE provided is:

  • suitable having regard to the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work
  • a suitable size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the worker who is to use or wear it
  • maintained, repaired or replaced so that it continues to minimise risk to the worker who uses it, including by ensuring that the equipment is clean and hygienic, and in good working order.

The PCBU must also ensure the RPE is used or worn by the worker, so far as is reasonably practicable.

The PCBU must not charge or impose a levy on a worker for the provision of RPE, or any other item of personal protective equipment.

Further information on how to know if RPE is needed to reduce exposure to RCS below the workplace exposure, and how to choose the right RPE, depends on the method used to choose dust controls.

Method 1: Using the controls table

The controls table at Appendix 4 of the Code outlines the following recommended controls for each common construction and manufacturing tasks:

  • engineering or work practice control methods
  • the respiratory protective equipment (RPE) for that task, depending on:
  • how long the shift is
  • if the task is done outdoors, or indoors / enclosed area.

If the PCBU is using the controls table, they must follow the recommended combination of controls for the task, including RPE. This requirement will often depend on the shift length, and if the task is done outdoors or indoors / enclosed area.

The controls table also outlines the Minimum Protection Factor (MPF) for the RPE that must be used. Section 7.6.1 includes a table that outlines what types of RPE are suitable for each MPF.

Note: If RPE is needed to protect the worker carrying out the task, the PCBU should consider the following controls for other persons in or near the work area:

  • isolation, such as exclusion zones (refer to Section 7.3)
  • administrative, if isolation is not reasonably practicable (refer to Section 7.5)
  • RPE, if isolation and administrative controls are not reasonably practicable (refer to Section 7.6).

Method 2: Using exposure data to choose dust controls that work

If the PCBU does not use the controls table to choose dust controls, the PCBU must follow the hierarchy of controls to choose dust controls.

The PCBU must have an air monitoring report that provides statistically valid exposure data that shows the controls the PCBU has chosen for the task reduce exposure to RCS to below the workplace exposure standard.

If the air monitoring report shows that the controls the PCBU has chosen for the task do not reduce exposure to RCS to below the workplace exposure standard, the PCBU must make sure RPE is used by the worker.

Section 7.6 provides information to assist the PCBU with selecting appropriate RPE, with a table in Section 7.6.1 that outlines the Minimum Protection Factor (MPF) for different types of RPE.

Note: If RPE is needed to protect the worker carrying out the task, the PCBU should consider the following controls for other persons in or near the work area:

  • isolation, such as exclusion zones (refer to Section 7.3)
  • administrative, if isolation is not reasonably practicable (refer to Section 7.5)
  • RPE, if isolation and administrative controls are not reasonably practicable (refer to Section 7.6).

Under WHS Regulation section 44, the PCBU must ensure that any personal protective equipment (this includes RPE) is:

  • suitable having regard to the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work; and
  • a suitable size, fit and reasonably comfortable for the worker.

Fit-testing is required for all tight-fitting RPE to ensure it is a suitable size, fit and reasonably comfortable for the worker. This includes:

  • All types of disposable and reusable half-face RPE, including negative pressure, powered air purifying and airline/air-fed types; and
  • All types of full face RPE, including negative pressure, powered air purifying and airline/air-fed types.

Section 7.6.2 of the Code provides information on the three methodologies for fit-testing, including qualitative and quantitative methods. This section provides a table outlining what methodologies are suitable for different specific types of RPE.

Section 7.6.2 also provides information on how frequent fit-testing should be, and who is competent to provide fit-testing.

Note: PCBUs should ensure workers who undergo fit-testing, or are required to wear tight-fitting respirators during work, are clean-shaven or have no hair between their face and the seal of the respirator face piece (this can interfere with a proper fit). However, loose-fitting RPE can be used with facial hair.

Method 1: Using the controls table

Appendix 4 of the Code is a controls table, outlining recommended controls for a range of common tasks in construction and manufacturing. The tasks are based on power tools and mechanised plant, as well as a number of housekeeping tasks that can make RCS airborne.

Note: For further information on the controls table, see FAQ ‘What do PCBUs need to do to comply?’.

For each task, the table outlines engineering or work practice control methods. Engineering controls commonly include the use of a dust collection system. The controls table specifies that the dust collector must be rated to either M or H class in accordance with AS/NZS 60335.2.68.

As such, when following the controls table, either M or H class is suitable for the task.

Method 2: Using exposure data to choose dust controls that work

The PCBU does not have to use the recommended controls included at Appendix 4.

If the PCBU does not use the controls table to choose dust controls, the PCBU must follow the hierarchy of controls to choose dust controls.

Note: For further information on using the hierarchy of controls, see FAQ ‘What do PCBUs need to do to comply?’.

If the PCBU intends to use a dust collection system (i.e., on-tool dust extraction) as a control, or intends to use a vacuum cleaner to clean the work area, an H class vacuum should be used where it is practicable.

If the PCBU uses an M class vacuum, the PCBU will need to justify why an H class vacuum was not reasonably practicable.

Further information on dust collection systems is provided in Section 7.4.2 of the Code.

Further information on housekeeping, including safer cleaning methods, is provided in Section 8 of the Code.

Note: Either H or M class vacuum cleaners are suitable for removing excess silica debris from clothes and other PPE. However, the use of effective higher order control measures should mean that there isn’t a lot of dust settling in the workplace. If workers clothing is regularly covered in dust following a task, this should trigger a review of control measures for that task. See Section 8.3 of the Code for more information.

The WHS Regulation requires PCBUs must provide health monitoring to workers who are carrying out ongoing work using, handling, generating or storing RCS and there is a significant risk to the worker's health because of exposure.

The Code advises that significant risk exists when:

  1. a worker has been doing jobs that, even when using higher order controls (e.g., substitution, isolation, engineering controls), generate enough RCS that RPE is needed to do keep exposure below the workplace exposure standard, and
  2. the worker needed to wear RPE to work safely on 30 days or more in a year, or
  3. the PCBU is reasonably certain the worker will need to wear RPE more than 30 days in the next twelve months

Note: RPE use only counts towards the 30 day trigger when wearing RPE is required by the Code. Any other RPE use does not count towards the 30 day trigger.

For example, a PCBU following the controls table at Appendix 4 requires a worker using a tile saw to use an integrated water delivery system for wet cutting. The controls table does not require RPE use.

If the PCBU chooses to provide the worker with RPE to further minimise exposure, this does not count towards the 30 day trigger.

If the worker chooses to wear RPE as an additional control, this does not count towards the 30 day trigger.

See the answer to FAQ ‘Do I need to provide respiratory protective equipment (RPE)?’, for more information on when RPE is required.

Section 10.1 provides more information on the requirement to provide health monitoring, including a more detailed explanation of the 30 day trigger. A sample record of tasks to track when the 30 day trigger is met, is provided at Appendix 5.

The PCBU must make sure that any health monitoring is done by a registered medical practitioner (e.g., a doctor) with experience of doing health monitoring.

The PCBU also must:

  • give workers and new workers information about health monitoring
  • consult workers on the doctor chosen to do the health monitoring
  • pay all costs related to health monitoring
  • provide the doctor with information about the worker, including:
    • the work that the worker is, or will be, carrying out that has triggered the requirement for health monitoring
    • if the worker has started that work—how long the worker has been carrying out that work.

Schedule 14, Table 14.1 of the WHS Regulation specifies the minimum requirements for health monitoring for crystalline silica, which includes:

  • demographic, medical and occupational history
  • records of personal exposure
  • standardised respiratory questionnaire
  • standardised respiratory function test
  • chest X-ray full size PA (posteroanterior) view.

Section 10.2 of the Code outlines what health monitoring should involve and outlines the PCBU duties (including the above information).

Some workers may be reluctant to take part in health monitoring. This may be because they are anxious about the medical results. This may be because they are anxious about what it could mean for their job. It could be both of these reasons.

PCBUs should include information on the purpose of health monitoring in worker training, and should encourage workers to participate, as early diagnosis and treatment can prevent more serious and life-threatening conditions from developing.

Supporting a worker in these circumstances can be achieved by ensuring they know how health monitoring will benefit them; making the process easy for them to follow; and reminding them that their workplace, family and community want them to be as safe and health as possible. Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) at a workplace (where applicable) may also be of assistance in this process and encourage workers to participate in screening for silicosis.

If the conversation with a worker on health monitoring has stalled, it may assist the PCBU to contact: WHSQ inspectors for assistance or further information. The PCBU may also consider contacting:

  • the relevant union for the workers. Worker representation groups will have special skills for talking to workers about the importance of their health and safety in a supportive and empowering manner
  • a doctor with experience conducting health monitoring. The medical professional will be able to explain the importance of spotting the signs of illness or disease as early as possible.

The worker may also advise the worker to speak with an employee assistance program (EAP). EAPs provide free, professional and confidential counselling services, and may be able to help address any anxiety related to the health monitoring

Section 10.4 provides further information on steps that a PCBU can take to support workers who are anxious about health monitoring.

Importers and suppliers have a duty under the WHS Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the substance they import/supply is without risks to health and safety of workers.

This includes importers and suppliers of silica-containing materials, including construction elements such as:

  • cement, concrete and aggregates, including precast concrete products such as fibre-cement sheeting
  • bricks, tiles, blocks, pylons and pavers
  • grout, mortar, asphalt, sand and stone
  • wall panels
  • geosynthetics.

Importers and suppliers are required by the WHS Act to meet their obligation by providing information about:

  • the purpose for which the substance has been designed and manufactured
  • the results of any calculations and analysis, testing in relation to the substance, including any hazardous properties
  • any conditions necessary to ensure the substance is without risks to health and safety.

Section 3.3 of the Code outlines specifically what information importers and suppliers should provide to meet these legislative requirements. This includes providing information on whether the construction element or material contains 1 per cent or more crystalline silica.

This information can be provided in a technical or safety data sheet, product labels fixed to each bundle/pallet/packet, or similar documents.

Where the product or material is classified as a hazardous chemical, manufacturers, importers and suppliers are required to provide a safety data sheet (SDS).

Section 3.4 of the Code provides further information on SDS, including references to the Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals Code of Practice and Section 2.2 of the Managing risk of hazardous chemicals in the workplace Code of Practice.

For workers

The Code provides a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and WHS Regulation.

It should be noted that section 26A of the WHS Act, concerning compliance with codes of practice, applies to PCBUs and not workers.

However, the Code remains a useful source of information for workers on RCS hazards at the workplace and effective dust controls.

Parts 3.1 and 3.2 provide tables of duties in construction work and manufacturing, including workers’ duties.

These includes the requirements for workers to:

  • take reasonable care for their own work health and safety
  • ensure their actions or lack of action does not harm others
  • follow reasonable health and safety instructions, policies or procedures. If workers believe these are not adequate, they should provide this feedback, in a reasonable way, to their supervisor or HSR(s).

For example, workers should use any dust control methods provided by the PCBU for a task, so far as they are reasonably able, including RPE.

Section 10.1 provides information on when a PCBU is required to provide health monitoring, also addressed in the FAQ ‘When is health monitoring required?’.

If you’re experiencing any health issues that you believe are work-related, please see your doctor as soon as possible. If your doctor considers your condition to be work-related they’ll supply you with a work capacity certificate.

You should also contact WorkCover or your self-insured employer to talk about your condition and your worker’s compensation rights.

Further information on respiratory diseases and compensation claims is provided at Work-related respiratory diseases.

If a worker believes that the PCBU should be providing them with health monitoring, they should first speak directly with management or with their HSRs who can raise issues on behalf of a work group.

If a worker has any concerns regarding health monitoring, they can also talk to:

  • a doctor with experience conducting health monitoring
  • any employee assistance program (EAP), if provided at the workplace
  • the relevant union for the worker(s).

As stated above, if a worker is experiencing respiratory symptoms that they believe are work-related, they should see their doctor as soon as possible.

Workers can also raise a workplace safety concern via the WHSQ website or call 1300 362 128.