Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is a known hazard generated when manipulating products and materials containing silica that can lead to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease. It is estimated that 230 Australians a year will develop lung cancer due to past exposure. This risk is predominantly born by construction workers, alongside miners, farmers, and engineers. Recent years have seen a notable rise in silica-related illness and death, particularly evident in Queensland and linked to an increase of engineered stone. It is estimated that in 2011, approximately 587,000 Australians were exposed to silica dust whilst working, and that 5758 will eventually develop lung cancer. Workers in engineered stone benchtop manufacturing, finishing and installation are at particular risk, as this comparatively new material contains up to 95% crystalline silica, as distinct from natural stone’s crystalline silica composition of 5%-50%. The focus of the Silica Safety project is to develop appropriate competency standards to meet the particular risks posed by RCS in building and construction.

Stage 1
Stage 2
Draft 1
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5
AISC submission
Stage 6
Skills Ministers
Stage 6

At its April 2022 meeting, the AISC considered the Silica Case for Endorsement and agreed to approve the four new silica units of competency. The AISC has also directed the IRC and SSO to include further detailed instructions (in consultation with work health safety regulators) within the Companion Volume. This is to support the safe delivery of training, particularly regarding the clean-up of dust and slurry in workplaces.

The project has now proceeded to the Skills Ministers for final approval.

Case for Endorsement - Silica Safety
CPC Companion Volume Release 8.0
Units of Competency - Silica Safety
Contact: Charles Donnelly
Project submission date: TBD
Project last updated: May 2022
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