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NSW unveils strategy to stamp out silicosis

21 February 2020

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson today announced a new plan to reduce cases of the deadly lung disease silicosis, caused by ingesting harmful dust when dry-cutting manufactured stone.  

Under the plan, NSW’s workers will be better protected by the introduction of on the spot fines for those who engage in unsafe dry-cutting practices, the creation of a Silicosis Health Register and the introduction of a new workplace exposure standard from 1 July this year.  

“Dry-cutting is an offence and for those who choose to ignore the law and put their employees at risk, SafeWork inspectors will issue tough new fines for noncompliance,” Minister Anderson said.

“Wet cutting prevents dust from escaping into the air and could significantly reduce the number of silicosis cases in NSW.”  

“To help purchase new equipment the NSW Government will offer rebates of up to $1,000 to manufactured stone businesses until 30 June.”

The NSW Government will make silicosis a notifiable disease, creating a Silicosis Health Register to allow SafeWork to track and investigate the workplaces of those diagnosed with the disease.

“To protect workers from the dangers of silica dust we need more oversight of diagnosed silicosis cases, which is why it will now be a notifiable disease, with all cases listed on a single register.”

“SafeWork NSW will be notified when patients are diagnosed so they can immediately investigate the patients’ current and previous workplaces and determine the source of the unsafe work practice that led to the disease.”

The NSW Government previously announced the introduction of a new silica workplace exposure standard of 0.05mg/m3, which will be effective in NSW from 1 July.

“NSW takes silicosis seriously, which is why we will be protecting workers by implementing the new exposure standard on 1 July, more than two years before the nationally agreed start date,” Minister Anderson said.

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