Posted on 18 Oct 2019
The NSW Government’s new silica dust exposure level is still too high, according to a prominent Sydney dust disease lawyer.
The NSW Government today announced they would decrease the allowable amount of silica dust in the manufactured stone industry, to 0.05 mg per cubic metre over an eight hour day, from 0.1mg/m3.
Slater and Gordon State Practice Group Leader Joanne Wade said it was a step in the right direction but more needed to be done for the workers who were continuing to be exposed.
“There is evidence to suggest that even 0.05mg/m3 is too high and workers will still be exposed to an unsafe levels of dust and develop silicosis,” Ms Wade said.
“The US lowered their limit of exposure to silica dust to 0.05 in 2016 so we are really behind the times as so little had been done prior to this. The US has recently cut its limit to 0.025.”
Ms Wade said that while the NSW State Government claims that dry cutting has been banned in NSW, the wording is buried in legislation and is not specific or clear enough.
“The state legislation does not specifically say that dry cutting is prohibited which doesn’t give clear enough guidance for the manufactured stone industry in NSW,” she said.
“They should be banning dry cutting and ensuring this practice is stopped. More can be done for the industry, to ensure stonemasons have access to high quality screening and testing.
“They need to spend the money to improve the screening technology to detect the lung damage so workers can be diagnosed.”