The recent Australasian Tunnelling Society (ATS) Conference in Sydney was the host for the industry’s first Silica in Tunnelling Workshop.  Working with industry to develop and implement health and safety strategies is a core pillar in regulatory efforts to build sustainable improvements in work health and safety outcomes. Understanding the high-risk nature of tunnel construction and the recent focus on silica exposure in major infrastructure projects by many stakeholders, including SafeWork NSW, the Australasian Tunnelling Society held the industry’s first “Silica in Tunnelling Workshop” as part of our triennial conference in Sydney in October 2017.

The workshop brought together key stakeholders from Contractors and Clients from major tunnelling projects in NSW, being NorthConnex, WestConnex M4 East, WestConnex New M5 and Sydney Metro City & Southwest alongside the health and safety regulator, SafeWork NSW.

Collaboration with industry stakeholders is essential to both raise awareness of this important issue, but also to enable effective strategies to be developed that will ultimately be practical and a positive step forward. The Silica in Tunnelling Workshop was the catalyst to the formation of the industry’s first Air Quality Working Group, who meet bi-monthly to work together with regulatory efforts to improve health outcomes for tunnel workers.

The ATS values the strong experience and contribution of its members to support key stakeholders in our ever-growing sector. Participation in events such as these aim to create engagement, ideas, strategies, and most importantly, practical solutions to some of the many challenges that face our industry. The ATS would like to thank those who are actively participating in this initiative.


Image: Silica in Tunnelling Workshop Attendees, October 31st, 2017 at ATS2017