Do you know the risk exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) presents? How do you manage your RCS Dust Code obligations? Are you aware of the new best practice for managing RCS Dust?
The seemingly endless renovations and new construction sites on the Gold Coast presents an increased risk of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) exposure for workers handling materials such as sand, concrete, and brick which creates silica dust. Management of the hazard has been varied due to a series of contributory factors resulting in the assessment at a national level.
The result of this assessment was the creation of a new Code of Practice which takes effect in Queensland on 1 May 2023. The new code addresses the risks RCS presents in the construction industry and supports the government’s commitment to their recently released Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023-2033 to reduce the frequency rate of work-related respirable disease by 20% and have no new cases of accelerated silicosis by 2033.
What is RCS Dust?
Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) is a type of dust that is generated when working with materials like sand, concrete, and brick. Exposure to this dust can cause serious health problems, including silicosis, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases.
What is in the new RCS Code of Practice? And what are your RCS Dust Code obligations?
The Code of Practice lays out a set of guidelines and requirements for managing RCS exposure in the workplace. Some of the key elements of the code include:
- Risk assessment: Employers are required to assess the risks of RCS exposure in their workplace, including identifying the materials and processes that may generate RCS dust. Based on the results of the assessment, employers must develop a plan to control exposure to RCS dust.
- Control measures: Employers must implement a range of measures to control RCS dust exposure, including engineering controls (such as ventilation systems and wet cutting methods), administrative controls (such as scheduling work to minimize dust exposure), and personal protective equipment (such as respirators).
- Training and education: Employers are required to provide workers with training and education on the risks of RCS dust exposure, how to identify potential sources of exposure, and how to use control measures and personal protective equipment.
- Health monitoring: Employers must provide health monitoring for workers who are at risk of RCS dust exposure, including regular medical examinations and lung function testing.
By implementing these measures, employers can significantly reduce the risk of RCS dust exposure in the workplace, protecting the health and safety of workers.
It is important to note that the Code of Practice is not only important for construction companies, but also for manufacturers of construction elements. For example, companies that produce concrete blocks, pavers, and other building materials must take steps to ensure that their manufacturing processes do not generate RCS dust. Are you managing your RCS Dust Code obligations?
The Code of Practice represents an important step forward in protecting workers from the dangers of RCS dust exposure. However, it is important for employers to take an active role in implementing these guidelines, and to remain vigilant in monitoring and managing the risks of RCS dust exposure. By working together, employers, workers, and regulators can ensure that the construction and manufacturing industries are safe and healthy workplaces for all.
Taking the next step to improving your WHS in your business can be a daunting task. Contact Big Yellow Safety if you are seeking the services of an experienced safety specialist to add value to your company or business. Contact us to arrange a free 30-minute Introductory Call with our WHS Specialist team to talk about your RCS Dust Code obligations.
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Phone 07 5655 4048. Servicing the Gold Coast, Tweed Heads and Northern NSW.