Who is the NZESAG?
The NZESAG was established in July 2019 to respond to the newly identified but significant occupational risk of accelerated and chronic silicosis for stonemasons fabricating/manufacturing their products. The Group’s objective is to help ensure the correct health and safety processes are established and followed in New Zealand to best manage the risk of silicosis.
The founding members of the NZESAG are Laminex New Zealand (distributor of Caesarstone), New Zealand Panels Group (distributor of Primestone), Smartstone New Zealand, Trendstone New Zealand, Universal Granite & Marble Ltd (distributor of Compac), and Archant Ltd.
How was the RCS Accreditation Programme developed?
NZESAG partnered with IMPAC, a leading workplace H&S consultancy, to help lead the establishment and implementation of the RCS Accreditation Programme. This was primarily due to the NZESAG not having the expertise or networks required to develop a multi-disciplinary/entity programme of this nature.
The Programme requirements demonstrate recognised best practice for reducing the risk to workers from RCS. As such it’s understood that joining the Programme is a commitment from fabricators to improve on their existing processes and to achieve/maintain best practice H&S standards.
Why are Fit Testing and a water suppressed primary cutter prerequisites for joining the programme?
In conjunction with Worksafe, ACC and Occupational Hygienists, recent Fit Testing and use of a water suppressed primary cutter have been determined as the minimum requirements a fabricator must have in place to be able to join the RCS Accreditation Programme. If a Fabricator does not meet these requirements, they will not achieve a successful audit outcome, regardless of other controls they may have in place.
What is included in the RCS Accreditation cost?
The cost covers the onsite audit and air monitoring testing (this meets Worksafe’s requirement for regular air monitoring to be carried out). Additionally, travel costs for the auditor to attend onsite may be charged based on the fabricator’s location and will be advised prior to payment.
Fabricators also receive detailed supporting HSMS documentation and access to an online learning module.
The total fee is the same for an initial assessment or subsequent renewals as the costs are incurred by the onsite audit, air monitoring and laboratory testing.
Why is Fit testing of respiratory protection not carried out as part of the Programme audit?
Fit testing of Respirable Protective Equipment (RPE) (that requires a seal to be maintained between the RPE and the face) for all workers needs to have been carried out within the 12 months prior to the onsite audit.
Without evidence of proper fitting RPE, the fabricator will not achieve a successful audit outcome, regardless of other controls they may have in place.
**Respiratory Fit Testing is a process which checks that staff who are required to wear respiratory protection are achieving an effective seal against contaminants in their work environment. A respiratory fit test includes training and checks of the use, care and maintenance of the respiratory equipment and must be carried out by a competent person.
To find a competent Fit Tester in your area or to find out more about training to become a Fit Tester visit https://nzohs.org.nz/commit2fit/
How long does my Accreditation level last?
Reauditing is required annually.
Why do I need to be reassessed/reaccredited?
It’s important to get reaccredited to account for any changes in a fabricator’s business, personnel, plant or processes and any changes in the industry, regulations or global best practice.
Worksafe also requires air monitoring to be carried out regularly and the RCS Accreditation renewal process includes meeting this requirement.
Registering for the Accreditation Programme is a commitment to working towards best practice in your management of RCS. The Audit report will clearly demonstrate the areas for improvement to help you achieve a higher Accreditation level and even for those who have reached Gold Accreditation, there will be learnings from reviewing their status annually.
What do I need to do before my onsite audit?
Once you have registered and paid you will receive your HSMS documentation and online learning module access. These resources, the Good Practice Guide and the Audit Questionnaire will help you to prepare and to achieve the best outcome for your onsite audit. The Good Practice Guide and the Audit Questionnaire clearly show the systems you need to have in place and the evidence the auditor will require.
On the audit day, you'll need to ensure someone familiar with your H&S processes can meet with the auditor for 2-3 hours and that fabrication is scheduled in the workshop during this time.