13th February 2018

The NSW Resources Regulator has accepted an undertaking from the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI) that will improve work health and safety standards in the stonemasonry industry.

In February 2017, SafeWork NSW referred two incidents that occurred at DFSI’s Heritage Stoneworks in Alexandria to the Resources Regulator for investigation under the work health and safety laws. As SafeWork NSW is also part of DFSI the matters were referred the Regulator to avoid any real or perceived conflicts.

One incident involved the exposure of workers to hazardous crystalline silica dust levels and the other incident involved a worker suffering a fractured skull while operating a pedestrian forklift.

DFSI subsequently submitted a proposal for an “enforceable undertaking” which is a legally binding agreement under the Work Health and Safety Act. An undertaking can be proposed by a company following an alleged contravention, which may be considered as an alternative to prosecution.

As part of the undertaking, DFSI have committed to a range of actions with a financial commitment of at least $498,500. This is in addition to an estimated $500,000 already spent on works carried out at the site following the incidents.

The funding will go towards:

  • producing educational videos on airborne crystalline silica and lifting practices
  • producing an education campaign for the stonemasonry industry
  • supplying specific information and materials on airborne crystalline silica and lifting practices to stonemasonry students at TAFE NSW
  • providing additional resources for lift management and dust suppression at the workplace
  • publishing information about the undertaking.

"This case serves as a timely reminder of the obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act," Resources Regulator Chief Compliance Officer Anthony Keon said.

"The undertaking is considered significant, and rightfully so, and has the real potential to create considerable industry reach by focusing on the next generation of workers in the stonemasonry industry."

Copies of the Enforceable Undertaking and decision can be found here https://www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/regulation/compliance-and-enforcement/enforceable.