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World first real-time silica detector helps clear the air

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The NSW Government has launched a trial of world-first technology to accurately monitor silica dust levels in the air that has the potential to protect NSW’s workers from contracting the deadly lung disease silicosis.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, said the innovative detector could be used by workers cutting or working with manufactured or other silica containing stone, protecting them from unknowingly inhaling dangerous levels of silica dust.

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“We’re on a mission to stamp out silicosis in this state. This ground breaking device allows us, for the first time, to monitor exposure levels in real-time ensuring workers can remove themselves from harmful exposure before it’s too late,” Mr Anderson said.

“This Government puts the safety of its citizens first, and the NSW Government’s investment into developing this silica detector will help give peace of mind for anyone working with manufactured stone.” The new detector is just one element of the NSW Government’s two-year plan to tackle dust diseases, including silicosis and asbestosis, in the state.

Under the plan the NSW Government has already taken proactive measures to protect workers, including reducing the legal exposure standard for silica exposure, banning dry cutting of manufactured stone, making silicosis a notifiable disease and establishing a dust diseases register that will track, respond to, and prevent deadly dust diseases, including asbestosis and silicosis.

The NSW Dust Strategy 2020-22 seeks to coordinate SafeWork NSW’s widespread exposure prevention activities to ensure consistent application of the controls and best practice principles across NSW’s worksites.

“We’ve consulted widely with unions, employers’ associations and the building and construction sector to develop a robust and practical strategy and look forward to working with industry to implement these principles and end dust diseases for good,” Mr Anderson said.

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AMSJ April 2022