Follow the Hierarchy of Controls
In Australia, you and your lung health are protected by Workplace Health and Safety legislation. Your employer must ensure that the highest possible standards are in place to protect your lung health. To achieve this, every workplace must follow strict procedures to control your risk. This is known as the Hierarchy of Controls.
The Hierarchy of Controls refers to actions your employer must take to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable. The Hierarchy of Controls are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability (elimination) to the lowest (personal protective equipment).
Elimination refers to eliminating the hazard entirely.
Substitution refers to substituting the hazard with a safer alternative.
Engineering Controls refers to a control measure that is physical in nature, including a mechanical device or process. Examples include physically separating the hazard from people by distance or barriers (known as isolating the hazard) and using ventilation systems.
Administrative Controls refers to work methods or procedures that are designed to minimise exposure to a hazard, as well as the information, training and instruction needed to ensure workers can work safely.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to anything used or worn to minimise risk to worker’s health and safety, such as face masks and respirators.
Your employer should:
- Provide or ensure that you use PPE that is specifically designed for the hazardous agent you are working with – you may need to undergo fit-testing in some instances, to ensure it is properly fitted
- Ensure you are trained on how to use your PPE properly, including cleaning and maintenance
- Make sure you are clean shaven, or your facial hair is trimmed when wearing Respiratory Protective Equipment, so there is a proper seal around your nose and mouth
When working as a cabinet maker, stonemason or carpenter:
- Make sure that your work area is appropriately ventilated so that cleaner air can come into the room.
- Make sure you have a dust extractor and that it is switched on and working. Also:
- Use an industrial vacuum to clear dust from the floors, walls and roof
- If using a brush, wet the dust before sweeping it up
- Avoid getting dust on your own clothes and hair If wearing your own clothes, wash them regularly and leave them at work – do not wear them at home
- To reduce dust:
- Use water to dampen and reduce dust clouds
- Use extraction equipment on your tools where possible
- If there is an option to use a tool that creates less dust, use it