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Safe Work Australia Announces Revised Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure Standards

Safe Work Australia Announces Revised Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure Standards

13 December 2019

Safe Work Australia has announced the reduction of workplace exposure standards (WES) for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) from its time weighted average of 0.1 mg/m3 to the significantly lower 0.05 mg/m3.

Exposure to the hazardous substance has the potential to cause the lung disease, silicosis, which has seen a surge in diagnoses over the past few years, primarily amongst stone fabricators working with engineered stone. The reduced WES for RCS places additional scrutiny on employers to meet their legislative obligation to provide a safe environment for workers.


Safe Work Australia Announcement

Work Health and Safety (WHS) ministers have agreed by the requisite majority to reduce the workplace exposure standards (WES) for respirable coal dust and respirable crystalline silica.

  • Respirable coal dust will be reduced to a time weighted average (TWA) of 1.5 mg/m3
  • Respirable crystalline silica will be reduced to a TWA of 0.05 mg/m3.

WHS ministers further agreed that the revised WES for respirable coal dust will apply from 1 October 2022 (allowing for a three year transitional period). For respirable crystalline silica, WHS ministers agreed the revised WES be implemented as soon as practicable*.

Safe Work Australia has published a revised version of the Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants that contains the revised value for respirable crystalline silica. It is up to individual governments to implement this change into jurisdictional WHS laws.

Source: Safe Work Australia


Additional Notes

  • *The implementation date of 1 July 2020 has been set for South Australia for the revised crystalline silica WES
  • The changes include an amended TWA (mg/m3) for Cristobalite, Quartz, Silica – Crystalline, Tridymite and Tripoli from 0.1 mg/m3 to 0.05 mg/m3
  • The changes also include an amendment to the Advisory Carcinogen Category for Cristobalite, Quartz, Silica – Crystalline, Tridymite and Tripoli to Carcinogen 1A


How Greencap can help

Risk-Based Hygiene Management Plans

Greencap has a team of certified occupational hygienists (COH) and full members of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) who assist clients with the development of risk-based hygiene management plans in various states of Australia.


Hazard Identification

Greencap’s experienced occupational hygiene team undertake the identification of crystalline silica hazards through a five-step process:

  1. Basic characterisation
  2. Workplace information gathering
  3. Exposure assessment
  4. Hazard control
  5. Reassessments


Workplace Monitoring

Greencap can conduct risk assessments and also develop and conduct workplace personal exposure monitoring for respirable crystalline silica and other workplace hazards.


Exposure Mitigation

Greencap has experience in mitigating potential occupational exposures and can assist workplaces in ensuring that current controls are or continue to be effective and recommend new or control improvements.

In addition to other controls, Greencap’s Occupational Hygienists can assist with PPE including selection of appropriate respiratory protection equipment.



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