Managing risks and worker exposures to silica can be achieved by selecting and implementing measures using the hierarchy of controls:
Substitution such as sourcing composite stone benchtops with a lower percentage of silica
Isolation of the hazard – using principles of safe work design to designate areas for tasks that generate dust and appropriate worker positioning during these tasks, using enclosures and automation to conduct dust generating tasks
Engineering Controls that minimise the risk of exposure to generated dust, for example, local exhaust ventilation, water suppression (wet cutting) or using tools with dust collection attachments.
Administrative Controls, including good housekeeping policies, shift rotations and modifying cutting sequences
Personal Protective Equipment including appropriate respiratory equipment (generally a minimum of a P2 efficiency half face respirator) and work clothing that does not collect dust.
New Workplace Exposure Standard
The national workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica has been halved from an eight hour time-weighted average airborne concentration of 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) to 0.05 mg/m3. This new workplace exposure standard takes effect in Queensland from 1 July 2020 (see source reference link)