National Guide for Working with Silica

National Guide for Working with Silica

A Comprehensive Summary of the National Guide for Working with Silica and Silica-Containing Products

The National Guide for Working with Silica and Silica-Containing Products, published by Safe Work Australia, provides essential guidance and recommendations to ensure the safe handling and management of silica in the workplace

Silica is a common mineral found in various industries, and exposure to respirable crystalline silica particles can lead to serious health issues, including lung diseases such as silicosis.

This summary aims to provide an overview of the key aspects covered in the guide, emphasising preventive measures, control strategies, and best practices to protect workers from silica-related hazards.

Understanding Silica

The guide begins by explaining the nature of silica and its potential health hazards when inhaled as respirable crystalline silica (RCS) particles. It highlights the industries and activities that commonly involve silica exposure, such as construction, mining, manufacturing, and abrasive blasting. The guide emphasises the importance of recognizing the sources of silica in the workplace and the potential for exposure during various tasks.

Health Effects and Risk Management

This section delves into the health effects associated with exposure to RCS, including acute and chronic conditions like silicosis, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The guide stresses the need for risk management to prevent or minimise exposure. It outlines the hierarchy of control measures, starting with eliminating or substituting silica-containing products, followed by engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The importance of conducting risk assessments, monitoring exposure levels, and implementing appropriate control measures is emphasised.

Control Measures

Detailed information is provided on various control measures to manage silica exposure effectively.

It highlights the significance of engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation systems, wet methods, and isolation enclosures, to minimise the generation and dispersion of RCS particles.

Administrative controls, including work practices, training, and signage, are recommended to complement engineering controls.

The guide also stresses the importance of proper maintenance and regular inspection of control measures to ensure their effectiveness.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This section emphasises the role of PPE in protecting workers from silica exposure when engineering and administrative controls alone are insufficient.

Guidance is provided on selecting appropriate respiratory protective equipment (RPE), such as respirators, and ensuring their proper use and maintenance.

It also covers the use of other PPE, including gloves, protective clothing, and eye and face protection, based on the specific workplace requirements.

Training and Supervision

The guide highlights the need for comprehensive training and supervision programs to create awareness and educate workers about the hazards of silica exposure.

It recommends that employers provide training on recognizing silica-containing products, understanding control measures, safe work practices, and emergency response procedures.

Supervisors are encouraged to monitor and provide guidance to ensure compliance with safety procedures and the effective implementation of control measures.

Health Monitoring and Surveillance

To detect and manage the potential health impacts of silica exposure, the guide emphasises the importance of health monitoring and surveillance programs.

It provides guidance on medical examinations, lung function tests, chest X-rays, and other relevant assessments. The significance of maintaining accurate records of exposure data, health monitoring results, and worker information, is also highlighted.

Crystalline Silica Health Monitoring Assessments

When it comes to Crystalline Silica Health Monitoring Assessments, Assist Group can help. We provide Crystalline Silica Health Monitoring programs as well as individual Silica Medicals

Find out more about our Crystalline Silica Health Monitoring Assessments


The National Guide for Working with Silica and Silica-Containing Products is a comprehensive resource that provides practical guidance on managing the risks associated with silica exposure in the workplace.

By following the recommendations outlined in the guide, employers can create safer working environments and protect workers from the serious health hazards posed by respirable crystalline silica particles.

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