air monitoring at workplaces with silica containing products need increased monitoring schedules
Air Monitoring at Workplaces with Silica Containing Products Need Increased Monitoring Schedules
Safework Australia argues that when assessing the exposure risk of silica dust there is insufficient evidence to show that any one combination of controls is guaranteed to keep exposure below the workplace exposure standard when working with silica containing products such as engineered stone.
Preventative action and control measures can help in reducing the risk of exposure, but there is no guarantee how long these methods will be effective for. Monitoring exposure levels needs to be a consistent and continuous exercise to help achieve a safe working environment.
When working with products containing silica, air monitoring is needed to confirm whether the exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica is being exceeded. The latest update to comply with WES (Workplace Exposure Standards), and is required under jurisdictional Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws is levels of respirable crystalline silica (silica dust) should not exceed a TWA of 0.05 mg/m3.
It is recommended that air monitoring is carried out:
At least once a year if you work with silica containing products.
If a worker becomes unwell or if a health monitoring report recommends you review your control measures.
If your work practices or the types of tools used change - for example you use a new tool more often.
If new control measures are implemented or you change your control measures-for example if you install an isolation booth or ventilation or apply a new shift rotation.
Safework Australia advises that you must do air monitoring to determine the airborne concentration of respirable crystalline silica at your workplace if you are not certain if you are exceeding the exposure standard, or monitoring is necessary to find out if there is a risk to health.
Air monitoring can help in assessing the risk to your workers because it can show:
how much your workers are being exposed
which processes or products are the source of the exposure, and
if your current control measures are working.
This data can help to identify the most effective actions to take to help prevent exposure to harmful silica dust particles. Using a monitor helps you to comply with regulations but also allows you to take control of the process before it becomes a harmful hazard.