Skip navigation

Silica dust at Cross River Rail

Question One - Silicosis at Cross River Rail Site


There was a silica related Workplace Health and Safety Queensland complaint late in June at the Gabba Cross River Rail site, and workers stopped work at the site again yesterday. What measures are being put in place at the Cross River Rail site at Woolloongabba to ensure the safety of workers and nearby residents?

Answer from Director-General of Department of Education:

I will go specifically to the most recent incident that you have raised in your question, and that relates particularly to dust exposure regarding the Woolloongabba site. I understand that Workplace Health and Safety attended that site yesterday to conduct a review of dust control measures implemented at the site. Workplace Health and Safety inspectors reviewed the measures that were put in place and were satisfied that air monitoring was being conducted appropriately, that dust levels were within the acceptable levels and that further controls are being implemented to minimise dust. However, the inspectors did observe and videoed the continuous water suppression system that is in place there. It creates a mist and in high winds there might have been a view that that mist was actually dust when, in fact, it was misted water. A Workplace Health and Safety inspector and hygienist will return to the site tomorrow to undertake further monitoring of that site.


Will data from on-site monitoring be made available?

Answer from Deputy DG of Office of Industrial Relations:

After we undertake the investigation and the assessment, we will look at whether the data does constituent a breach. If that is the case, action will be taken around that. If it does not constitute a breach, we will make that available to those people interested in that information.

Question 2 - Improvement Notices


During one of the earlier estimates hearings in the Education, Employment and Training Committee, we heard that 188 improvement notices have been issued to Workplace Health
and Safety Queensland in relation to the Cross River Rail sites. Do you have any information on what these 188 improvement notices relate to?

Answer from Cross River Rail CEO:

There have been a range of improvement notices issued by the regulator in relation to the project. In this calendar year, there have been 38 issued, of which 25 are improvement notices. The reference to the whole-of-life of project was there. Pleasingly, we have seen an improvement in the way in which the project has progressed with time. In this calendar year, 2021, we have seen 38 overall notices issued, and of those 25 were improvement notices. In relation to the background to those notices and what they relate to, it really does vary and it depends on the nature of where the project is up to at the point in time. Early on, there was a lot of access/egress. For the benefit of the committee, it is when you come onto site and safe passage along the site. Then there are other things like scaffolding and plant and equipment. Those sorts of things are where improvement notices are issued. It is really a variety of things that they pick up as we go. I should point out that an improvement notice is essentially where there is a contravention to how things are being conducted on site as far as the regulator is concerned. It allows for an immediate remedy or rectification, so it is considered the lowest level of infringement.


Is any of that information publicly available?


I am not sure. I think the regulator does publish it but that is really a question for how they publish that.


Question 3 - Dust Monitoring


With regards to the Woolloongabba station site, we understand there are four dust-monitoring units that are measuring dust there. Which one of those is also measuring silica levels in particular? What are the silica levels coming out of those dust-monitoring units?

Answer from Cross River Rail CEO:

In relation to the Woolloongabba site and with all other sites, there are dust-monitoring stations proximate to the site. There are stations to the north, the south-east and the
west of the site as well as ongoing monitoring that goes on onsite. Those monitoring stations are checked regularly. There is a project hygienist that goes onto site and does on-spot checking as well. It is really the combination of those that pick up the dust level on site. In recent times, there were some complaints within the site from one of the subcontractors. That was in June that there was a complaint. The regulator came onto site and the regulator responded with—

"WHSQ received a dust related complaint on 22 June 2021, we investigated the complaint including having one of our hygienists visit the site who undertook specific enquiries around the controls and readings. There was no non compliances identified in relation to this particular matter." 

There was a further complaint on 27 July. Workplace Health and Safety went out onto site and again did not identify any issues that concerned them in relation to the dust on site. In fact I think at a previous estimates hearing there was a reference that some of the perceived dust may well have been actual spray that is being used as suppressant on the conveyor belt to keep the dust levels down. While it looks like a mist, it may not actually be dust; it is actually water spray.

Continue Reading

Read More