Silica dashboard

Silica dust is a major hazard for workers in NSW and can lead to the serious and often fatal lung disease silicosis. Our silica dashboard shows what is being done.

Current Silica project status (2017-2023)

National activities

  • On 13 December 2023, WHS Ministers announced a total ban on engineered stone effective 1 July 2024.

SafeWork NSW key activities

  • Launch of the Silica Safety Mask Basic video in English, Arabic, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. The video explains how to properly wear and look after masks.
  • Launch of the Respiratory protective equipment and requirements for fit testing workers page. The page focuses on respiratory protective equipment (RPE), including fit testing and fit checking requirements. Fit testing and fit checking are essential for workers exposed to silica dust.
  • Development and launch of the Silica Awareness and Safety online course. The 1.5 hour course provides an overview of key risks of silica exposure, health effects and control measures. It costs $105 per person.
  • Silica test tracker poster was distributed to businesses to remind them of their yearly testing obgligations, including fit testing for RPE and health monitoring. 
  • Ongoing engagement with three major linguistic groups through the Community Voices program. The program targets the engineered stone industry, delivering in-language safety messaging.
  • Internal knowledge sharing within SafeWork NSW, focusing on cross-cultural engagements in the engineered stone industry to apply to other relevant strategies.
  • Silica safety in construction compliance program which started in September 2023 continues till March 2024.  This is a state-wide visits program by led by construction team inspectors, with a focus on education and awareness raising. Inspectors will also conduct a verification program to reduce exposure to harmful silica dust in workers and others in NSW construction workplaces. A social media campaign and interactive webinar was used to raise awareness on the dangers of exposure to silica and control measures.

SafeWork NSW compliance activities

The following information relates to SafeWork NSW’s silica workplace visit program which commenced in 2018. Data is from 2018 to 31 December 2023.

Workplace visits



Silica-related presentations to workplaces

Construction workplace visits
Manufactured stone visits
Other industries

Includes tunnelling, manufacturing, foundries and stonemasons.


Improvement notices

Any silica-related improvement notice

Prohibition notices

Issued for uncontrolled exposure to silica dust

On the spot fines

Issued for uncontrolled dry cutting


Since 2018 there have been two prosecutions related to silica. 

N MOITS & Sons Pty Ltd

June 2023

Failed to take a number of reasonably practicable measures to minimise the risk of respirable crystalline silica dust inhalation for workers involved in crushing masonry waste.

NumberOne Stone Marble and Granite Pty Ltd

February 2023

Failed to provide appropriate RPE to workers or provide RPE fit-test and training for workers.

Silicosis cases identified

Where volume of data is low, data has been grouped into categories to allow reporting while maintaining privacy principles.

71 cases and 5 deaths
1 July – 31 December 2023

71 silicosis cases were notified to NSW Health by icare. 70 cases are male. 1 case is female. 

Silicosis sub-type 

Chronic                                                 64
Not identified<5

Region of Birth

Australia/New Zealand                 21
Middle East11
Not identified21

Age groups

Under 21                                               <5
Not identified<5

By industry (ANZSIC)

Manufactured/Engineered Stone (2090)                  50
Construction – site prep/heavy civil (3109/3212)14

By occupation (ANZSCO)

Engineered Stone processors (7111)48
Construction – site prep/heavy civil (7212/8219)   17

Historical information

107 cases

Prior to commencement of the NSW Dust Disease Register (data derived from icare).

40 cases

Prior to commencement of the NSW Dust Disease Register (data derived from icare).

9 cases

Prior to commencement of the NSW Dust Disease Register (data derived from icare).

Notification of a silicosis diagnosis

From 1 July 2020, all medical practitioners must notify NSW Health when they diagnose a case of silicosis in NSW.

SafeWork NSW Regulatory Priorities

Reducing exposure to harmful substances, including silica, is a regulatory priority for SafeWork NSW in 2023.

SafeWork NSW chooses regulatory priorities based on the following factors:

  • potential for serious harm or death

  • new or emerging issues

  • increases in frequency of an issue.

Learn more about the SafeWork NSW 2023 Regulatory Priorities.

Action taken on uncontrolled cutting, grinding or drilling of silica products or materials

From 1 July 2020:

  • the workplace exposure standard (WES) for silica has been reduced to 0.05mg/m3 (eight-hour time-weighted average)
  • on-the-spot fines apply for uncontrolled cutting, grinding, drilling and polishing of manufactured stone
  • silicosis became a notifiable condition by all medical practitioners to NSW Health
  • on-the-spot fines apply for PCBUs failing to notify SafeWork NSW of an adverse health monitoring report.

Uncontrolled cutting, grinding or drilling of products or materials containing crystalline silica can generate hazardous levels of airborne dust. Breathing in this dust, usually over several years, can lead to serious and fatal lung diseases such as silicosis. You must use water, dust extraction systems on portable tools, or adopt other methods that eliminate or minimise the generation of silica dust. Inspectors can issue prohibition notices to stop you from doing work that generates high levels of silica dust. If you don't comply with a prohibition notice, PCBUs (employers) can face penalties up to $100,000.

If you are a fabricator or installer of manufactured stone products e.g. kitchen benchtops you must:

  • use saws, grinders and polishers with an integrated water supply to minimise the amount of dust generated
  • ensure workers wear half face piece reusable or disposable respirators as a minimum, that comply with the Australian Standard 1716:2012 Respiratory Protective Devices
  • use on-tool dust capture shrouds or water to control dust generated during any work required during on site installation.

Failure to use these controls for fabricating or installing manufactured stone can result in an on the spot fine of $3,600.

More information and resources

Codes of practice and fact sheets




Research and case studies

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