Has your business or site been audited? In May this year, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland inspectors commenced respirable crystalline silica (RCS) audits at construction sites and workplaces which manufacture construction elements.
Did you know there is a self-assessment tool to help you comply in the Managing respirable crystalline silica in construction and manufacturing of construction elements code of practice 2022 (PDF, 1.71 MB)?
This self-assessment tool helps you to review the effectiveness and suitability of your safe work procedures and risk controls, ensuring you are preventing exposure to RCS.
Working with materials that contain crystalline silica can generate dangerous RCS dust. The workplace exposure standard is 0.05 milligrams per cubic metre averaged over an eight-hour period (eight-hour time weighted average (TWA)).
Tasks such as cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, polishing, scabbling and crushing materials that contain one per cent or more of crystalline silica can generate RCS. Other tasks like dry sweeping or using compressed air can also disturb settled dust containing RCS and make it airborne.
Because of this risk, any construction task that generates RCS from a product containing one per cent or more of crystalline silica is considered high-risk construction work.
Materials containing RCS may include cement, concrete, aggregates, pre-cast, fibre cement sheeting, bricks, tiles, blocks, pylons, pavers, mortar, asphalt, sand, stone, wall panels and geosynthetics. RCS is dangerous because:
- it’s easily breathed in
- it’s too small to see under normal lighting conditions
- it can stay in the air for hours after becoming airborne
- ongoing exposure can lead to lung diseases including silicosis and cancer.