Queensland to Introduce New Code of Practice to Include Exposure to Silica in Construction Industry

The Queensland government will be issuing the first crystalline silica dust code of practice for construction from May this year. The new code will be applicable to all construction work and the manufacturing of construction materials including bricks, blocks, tiles, mortar and concrete.

The large number of workers who are estimated to be exposed to silica dust, resulting in increased numbers of silicosis and silica related illnesses, has urged regulatory bodies to take action.

Queensland’s Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations have approved the state’s new code of practice; Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in construction and manufacturing of construction elements, under section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and will be applicable from 1 May 2023.


What does the code cover?

The code outlines how duty holders can meet the requirements of Queensland’s work health and safety legislation, including eliminating or minimising exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) at work by:

  • Using tried and tested dust control methods that prevent silica dust from being generated or being released into the air, including water suppression and on-tool dust extraction
  • Using appropriate respirable protective equipment to safeguard at-risk workers
  • Using exposure data from air monitoring to check dust controls are effective
  • Providing health monitoring to at-risk workers, with clearly defined triggers for testing based on level of risk
  • Introduce training, education, instruction and supervision of workers including evidence of working and consulting with workers


When is appropriate respirable protective equipment necessary?

According to Appendix 4 of the Code, appropriate respiratory protective equipment is necessary when a higher order of control methods is not sufficient. Properly fitted respiratory equipment is needed if the levels of exposure to silica dust are not below the outlined workplace exposure standard. However, ensuring the fit of respiratory equipment is correct and effective is an integral part of keeping the workforce safe, regardless of exposure levels.

All types of tight-fitting respirators (negative and positive pressure) must be fit tested as required by AS/NZS 1715, ISO 16975-3 and all other international RPE guidance.

This includes all disposable/filtering facepieces (FFP), reusable half face, reusable full face including those attached to a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) or supplied air source such as SCBA cylinder and compressed airline hose.

Face-fit testing can easily be completed by using the AccuFIT 9000 PRO, ensuring that the respiratory equipment identified fits the user correctly. The person delivering the fit-testing must be competent in performing the service to make sure a reliable fit-test result is achieved. You can become an accredited fit-tester by completing training delivered by RESP-FIT,  national respirator protective equipment (RPE) fit testing training and accreditation program developed to improve the competency of fit testers against both the Australian and international ISO respirator standards for fit testing.

How can you collect data on levels of exposure to silica?

The Air XS silica monitor from Trolex can collect data in real-time. The unit takes average readings across 15 minute, 1 hour, 4 hour, 8 hour or 12 hour intervals as well as the ability to set custom alarm levels. Using the Breathe XS software the user can extract collected data for analysis, identifying trends and potential risks and use as evidence to check that dust controls are operating effectively.

The Air XS real-time silica monitor should be used in addition to recommended air monitoring for respirable dust particles to provide an instant alert if levels of silica increase. Periodic sampling of exposure levels is then required to ensure these remain below the workplace exposure standard as outlined by the Code of Practice.

If you need any further assistance in identifying the best equipment to ensure levels of silica remain safe and below the regulatory amount, please just get in contact with us.



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