Crystalline Silica Regulations apply from 15th May 2022.

By on April 2, 2022

Prepared by David McKelvie (Safemix) for CMPA Members. David has been a Workforce / Associate member of the CMPA since 2013.

Objective of the Regulations:
The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2021 came into operation on 15th November 2021 and apply from 15th May 2022.

The objective of these regulations is to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 to provide for the management of crystalline silica in the workplace by:


• Prescribing risk control measures that must be used when working with engineered stone; and

• Providing for the licensing of employers and self-employed persons who work with engineered stone; and
• Introducing duties for manufacturers and suppliers of crystalline silica substances; and
• Providing for the management of high-risk crystalline silica work in workplaces; and
• Prescribing certain offences as offences for which an infringement notice may be issued; and
• Prescribing infringement penalties in respect of those infringement offences.

It is understood that these amendment regulations have been established as a result of the recent outbreak of silicosis and other dust related diseases in the manufactured stone industry that provides bench tops and other hard surfaces to the building industry.

Workers in these industries have in some cases been exposed to extreme levels of Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust (RCSD) and other chemicals utilised to artificially manufacture stone.

It appears that these stone masons have incurred either accelerated silicosis or acute silicosis, which in basic terms means intense or excessive exposure.

What is Silicosis?
Silicosis is a lung disease typically caused by inhaling excessive amounts of fine particles of RCSD causing scarring of the lower lung i.e., the alveoli.

This permanently reduces a person’s ability to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, leading to breathing impairment and a loss of fitness. If untreated this may lead to significant illness
that is potentially fatal.


• Chronic silicosis may take 15 or more years of low to moderate exposure to develop.
• Accelerated silicosis appears after 5-10 years of intense exposure.
• Acute silicosis develops within 6 months to 2 years old intense exposure.

What is a Crystalline Silica Substance?
A Crystalline Silica Substance means any substance that contains more than 1% crystalline silica e.g., quartz and is reasonably likely to be mechanically processed at a workplace and is in a respirable form.

What is a Crystalline Silica Process?
A crystalline silica process consists of one or more of the following processes carried out at a workplace:
• The use of a power tool or other form of mechanical plant to:
 Cut, grind, polish or crush material containing crystalline silica; or
 Carry out any other activity involving material containing crystalline silica that generates crystalline silica dust;
• The use of a roadheader/profiler on an excavated face if
the material in the face contains crystalline silica;

• A process that exposes a person to crystalline silica dust arising from the manufacture or handling of material that contains crystalline silica;
• The mechanical screening of crushed material containing crystalline silica;
• A quarrying process involving material containing crystalline silica;
• A tunnelling process involving material containing crystalline silica;

What is High Risk Crystalline Silica Work?
High risk crystalline silica work is work performed in connection
with a crystalline silica process that is reasonably likely to result in:


• An airborne concentration of respirable crystalline silica that exceeds half the exposure standard (0.02mg/m3) for respirable crystalline silica; or
• A risk to the health of a person at the workplace.

Who has duties under the Regulations?
Any employer who processes materials that have the potential to generated RCSD inclusive of:


• Quarries that process rock that containing more that 1% quartz
• Quarries or concrete plants where there is potential exposure to cement powder
• Recyclers who process concrete, asphalt or other masonry products
• Road builders using roadheaders/profilers

What are these duties?
In summary there are many duties for employers under these regulations inclusive of but not limited to the following:


• Identifying whether the material being processed is
potentially a Crystalline Silica Substance
• Identifying any or all work practices that are potentially Crystalline Silica processes
• Conducting and recording a comprehensive riskassessment on each or a combination of processes to determine whether or not these processes have the potential to become High Risk Crystalline Silica Work, or alternately, deeming each or a combination of processes High Risk Crystalline Silica Work
• Establish, monitor and review a Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statement for High-Risk Crystalline Silica Work
• The provision of information, instruction and training for employees who are likely to be exposed to risks associated with high-risk crystalline silica work
• The provision of information to job applicants for high-risk crystalline silica work
• The provision of information to users of the products


Note: Within these regulations there are also sections specific and applicable to the engineered or manufactured stone industry inclusive of licensing and supply requirements, specialist health monitoring practices, control plans and reporting to the regulator in regards to health and atmospheric monitoring.

The Way Forward
The CMPA recommends that all members who process materials with a quartz content greater than 1% deem the processes as High-Risk Crystalline
silica work and move straight to the establishment of a Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statement.

The process for conducting and recording a risk assessment as prescribed in these regulations is very detailed, comprehensive and resource hungry
and in any operation with a quartz content greater than 1 % will result in the same determination.

A Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statement lists the site and rock source details, the dates of previous and upcoming monitoring and the key work
processes and controls used to either eliminate or reduce the risk associated with the hazard as far as is reasonably practicable as well as.

From the CMPA’s perspective the statement is like any other risk control plan and will be a useful tool in ensuring workers, the community and the regulator that our members understand this hazard and control any potential risk in a responsible manner.

The CMPA recently held a vital one-hour webinar on the new mandatory regulatory requirements for Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust (RCSD) on your site. The webinar was for owners and managers. The objective was to provide owners and managers with the tools and skills to ensure compliance with the mandatory requirements of the new OHS Regulations for the control of RCSD in their workplaces, so as to either eliminate or reduce the risk associated with hazardous RCSD as far as is reasonably practicable.

The updated CMPA RCSD Management Guideline March 2022 Issue 2 will be released with tools required for compliance with the new regulations.


The guideline provides the following attachments:


• Field Monitoring Report
• Similar Exposure Groups
• RCSD Management Data Base
• Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statement Template
• Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statement Acknowledgement Form
• RCSD Controls Photo Gallery
• RCSD Control Self-Assessment Checklist
• Provision of Information for Job Applicants

The guideline and attachments are available to members to download on the CMPA’s website (cmpavic.asn.au / Members’page for editable templates) under the section titled publications / guidelines. An online training module with assessments is also being developed for workers and managers.

Written by David McKelvie, Director of Safe Mix, a WHS consultancy specialises in supporting the Construction Materials Industry.

Safe Mix can assist members in controlling the risks associated with RCSD through worker/management training, the establishment of Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statements, the coordination and assessment of dust monitoring and general advice.

If you require support, you can contact David on 0407 022 117
or email david@ safemix.com.au


Alternately visit our website www.safemix.com.au

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