SafeWork SA’s audit report on the compliance campaign into businesses working with silica containing materials has been released with key findings and recommendations.

From 1 October 2020 to 1 April 2021, SafeWork SA undertook a compliance campaign focused on respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure risks and controls in the fabrication, including monumental masons and the construction and mining industry.

The campaign was based on the proactive RCS compliance campaign undertaken by SafeWork SA in 2019 and supports the Government of South Australia Strategy for Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure Awareness and Reduction 2020.

This second audit broadened the scope of the campaign to include monumental stone masons, as well as mining and quarrying sites, as workers in those industries are at greater risk of being exposed to RCS.

Over the course of the campaign, SafeWork SA conducted 199 site visits and 71 compliance audits.

A total of 102 statutory notices were issued where breaches of the work health and safety legislation were identified, consisting of 95 improvement notices and 7 prohibition notices.

The largest area of non-compliance identified was the failure to conduct air monitoring to determine whether the controls in place are effectively minimising exposure of workers to RCS.

In comparison to the 2019 audits, 25 fabricators achieved an increase in compliance with most maintaining their safe systems of work associated with RCS controls.

11 construction PCBUs increased their compliance with documented safe systems of work and Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS).

Construction activities exposing workers to a risk of silica are classed as high risk construction work requiring a SWMS to be completed.

SafeWork SA will undertake a follow-up compliance audit campaign in late 2021 focussing on Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) for high risk construction work.

Read the full audit report for details of the campaign including findings, actions taken and recommendations.