On 1 May 2023, the new construction silica code comes into effect, with inspectors preparing to visit hundreds of construction and manufacturing sites across the state.
The Code – Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements code of practice 2022 – covers both construction sites and workplaces that manufacture construction elements.
Silicosis is a devastating disease that can be caused by breathing in respirable crystalline silica (RCS or silica). Outlined in the Code under Appendix 4 is a list of practical control methods businesses can adopt to prevent workers being exposed.
As part of ensuring compliance for the workforce, inspectors will visit hundreds of businesses to monitor activities involving silica. Inspectors will look at your safe work method statements for RCS generating activities and ask about your consultation with workers. They will also look at what controls you have in place and whether those controls are in line with, equivalent to, or better than the controls identified in Appendix 4 of the code of practice.
Inspectors may ask you to provide any air and health monitoring records and will look at any respirable protective equipment in use, your clean up and disposal methods for silica waste, the impact of the RCS generating activity on workers, and how workers operating earth moving equipment are protected from exposure.
If one of your workers is diagnosed with silicosis, you must report this to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). This is in addition to notifying WorkCover Queensland in relation to a workers’ compensation claim.