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The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Date: 
Tuesday, 11 June, 2019 - 17:15
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe will visit 34 businesses in Darwin, Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek over the coming months to highlight the risk of silica exposure to their workers.

Workers involved in cutting or polishing engineered or manufactured stone at these businesses potentially have a medium to high risk of silica exposure.

NT WorkSafe has started this compliance campaign following a national spike in workers diagnosed with the fatal lung disease silicosis.

WorkSafe inspectors will raise awareness in these businesses of silicosis and review the control measures in place to manage the risk of silica dust.

NT WorkSafe Director of Operations Neil Burgess said workers cutting or polishing engineered or manufactured stone face the highest risk from silica exposure, however the risk could be reduced if appropriate control measures were in place.

“The engineered stone benchtop manufacturing industry in the Northern Territory is small compared to the eastern states and there have been no confirmed cases of silicosis in the Territory,” said Burgess.

“Despite this, WorkSafe inspectors will visit a number of at risk businesses identified across the Territory over the coming weeks to ensure the control measures are in place to protect Territory workers.

“The majority of the identified businesses are involved in kitchen and bathroom renovations, or are stone suppliers.”

WorkSafe inspectors will be issuing improvement and prohibition notices to businesses that don’t have appropriate control measures, and Burgess said there is also a legislative requirement for an employer to provide health monitoring to their workers who may have been exposed to silica.

“WorkSafe inspectors will be checking if appropriate health monitoring has been provided to workers,” he said.

More information on silica is available on the NT WorkSafe’s crystalline silica and silicosis webpage.