South Australia backs national ban on engineered stone

SA Gov

South Australia will support a ban on the use of engineered stone at an upcoming national meeting of Work Health and Safety Ministers, following the release of a damning safety report last month.

When engineered stone is processed, such as by cutting or grinding, it releases small particles of respirable crystalline silica dust that, when inhaled into the lungs, can cause silicosis – a disease resulting in permanent disability and death, and with no known cure except lung transplantation.

A SafeWork Australia report last month found that engineered stone workers are dramatically over-represented amongst workers diagnosed with silicosis.

The report found there is no scientific evidence for a “safe” threshold of crystalline silica content in engineered stone, and recommended a prohibition on the use of all engineered stone, as well as a licensing scheme for work with engineered stone already installed.

The report was developed following extensive stakeholder consultation, independent economic analysis, and an expert review of scientific evidence.

The call to ban engineered stone has been supported trade unions, health and safety professionals, and medical practitioners including the Australian Medical Association. Last week national retailers Bunnings and IKEA announced they will begin phasing out the sale of engineered stone products in their stores.

Commonwealth, State and Territory WHS Ministers will meet in December to decide on a response to the SafeWork Australia report. South Australia will support a prohibition on the use of engineered stone at that meeting.

This follows new regulations introduced by the State Government in September to ban the uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone, and mandate dust suppression systems and the use of personal protective equipment.

As put by Kyam Maher

Silicosis is a rapidly growing problem and engineered stone workers are dramatically overrepresented in diagnosis with this terrible disease.

Having gone through the experience of asbestos in Australia, we cannot afford to make the same mistakes again.

The expert evidence is clear there is no safe threshold of respirable silica content in engineered stone, and leading businesses like Bunnings and IKEA have already started to phase these products out of their stores.

It’s time to ban these dangerous products and keep South Australians safe.

If there is no decisive national action on this issue by the end of the year, South Australia reserves the right to go it alone with a ban on a state level.

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