The Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and the manufacturing of construction elements code of practice will commence on 1 May 2023. The code outlines how PCBUs can manage risks associated with RCS at the workplace, and what they need to do to comply with legislation.
As well as construction work, the code applies to the manufacturing of all construction elements, materials or products that contain one per cent or more crystalline silica.
Relevant construction elements or materials that contain one per cent or more crystalline silica 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
Common construction and manufacturing materials that contain less than one per cent crystalline silica include but are not limited to wood, glass, metals (iron, steel, copper, and aluminium) and most plastics. The code also outlines how manufacturers can determine whether construction materials contain CS:
- check information provided by the supplier, importer or previous manufacturer (such as a technical / safety data sheet)
- contact supplier, importer or previous manufacturer for information, if not readily available
- get the material tested at a National Association of Testing Authorities accredited facility.
If the manufacturer is unable to find out if a material contains one per cent or more crystalline silica, it should be assumed it does and appropriate control measures adopted.
Providing information on construction elements to customers
Manufacturers of construction elements should include information on whether the element, material or product contains one per cent or more crystalline silica. If it does, the manufacturer should provide information on the hazardous properties of RCS; on the health risks of RCS, and on how to manage these risks in the workplace, such as a statement: “The Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements code of practice should be consulted for further information on how to use the product safely.”
This information may be provided in technical or safety data sheets; product labels fixed to each bundle / pallet / packet, or similar documents.
Safety data sheets are a legal requirement if the construction element, material or product contains RCS - not just crystalline silica - as RCS is classified as a hazardous chemical under the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
Further information on duties for manufacturers is provided in section 3.2 of the code. For information on how to safely manage RCS in the workplace, and duties related to air monitoring and health monitoring, refer to the Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and the manufacturing of construction elements code of practice 2022.