Minns Government invests in worker safety with greater protections from deadly silicosis

NSW Gov

The Minns Labor Government is putting more SafeWork NSW inspectors on the ground to enforce the engineered stone ban coming into force next month.

A 2024-25 NSW Budget boost of $2.5 million will help ensure compliance with the July 1 ban on the use, supply, and manufacture of engineered stone. In addition to the ban, there will be stronger regulation of all other materials containing crystalline silica.

The boost to compliance inspections in the engineered stone industry will see more inspectors carrying out site visits and issuing penalties to any non-compliant operators.

SafeWork recently completed a six-month Silica in Construction workplace visit program. During the state-wide visit program construction team inspectors conducted 176 visits to relevant businesses and issued 142 notices.

The additional investment in this Budget will also protect workers from the dangers of exposure to silica by delivering:

  • Additional program staff to provide education tools and programs to support impacted industries.
  • The development of new notification systems for businesses doing processing work on existing engineered stone in homes and workplaces.

Silicosis, caused by breathing in small particles of silica dust, has devasting effects on the lungs and has become more prevalent in the engineered stone industry.

It is preventable and this funding for more inspectors and monitoring systems will support the implementation of the national ban to remove dangerous exposure to silica dust from engineered stone, saving lives in the process.

It is in addition to $5 million in critical funding already delivered by the government for silicosis research and a patient support program for individuals and their families who are navigating the health risks associated with exposure to silica dust, via a grant from icare and the Dust Diseases Board.

Additionally, a Silica Worker Register to track at-risk workers is also being established from the Workers Compensation Operational Fund.

Minister for Work Health and Safety Sophie Cotsis said:

“The previous government was far too slow to act on this deadly threat.

“The Minns Government will not only ban this dangerous product but the funding in this Budget ensures the ban and new compliance regime actually works at saving lives.”

“Silicosis is preventable and all workers who are at risk of silicosis will now be registered so that their health is tracked for their lifetime.

“The Minns Government is investing in worker safety as a priority because it is a fundamental right of every worker to go to work and come home safely to their loved ones at the end of the day.”

/Public Release. View in full here.