Construction Company Boral fined $180,000 Over Silica Dust Exposure
Pay $13,886 in costs
Australian Associated Press
Construction giant Boral has been fined $180,000 for failing to ensure workers wear masks properly and exposing them to dangerous silica dust.
The company was sentenced in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday and ordered to pay $13,886 in costs.
WorkSafe Victoria charged the construction company over its failure to provide and maintain a system in which staff were required to wear fit-tested respiratory protective equipment.
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From 2018 to 2019, WorkSafe inspectors observed potential exposure hazards from dust during a site visit at its Montrose quarry in Melbourne’s east.
It found that five workers were exposed to deadly silica dust generated from processing the quarry rock.
Dust produced from silica has been linked to the incurable lung disease silicosis and cancer.
Magistrate Carolyn Burnside said Boral was “well and truly aware” of dust management guidelines released in 2016 and the surrounding literature around the risk of silica.
The magistrate said that measures to reduce that risk were “quite straightforward and easy to maintain”, even if it took more time.
“The effort should have been made,” she said.
Ms Burnside also acknowledged a former Boral employee Jonna McNeill, who was diagnosed with silicosis in 2019 after being exposed to dust while working at the company’s Montrose quarry.
Ms McNeill was not one of the workers listed on the WorkSafe charges, but she read a victim impact statement to the court.
“My whole life has changed as a result of this diagnosis,” she said.
“It's had a huge impact on my relationships. I can’t even walk to the letterbox so I'm very scared of what my future holds,” she added.
Ms McNeill is now pursuing a civil case against Boral.
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