Ban engineered stone over rising silicosis disease

NSW will prohibit the use, supply and manufacture of engineered stone from July 1 after Safe Work Australia found there was no safe level of silica in the product.

Rates of silicosis and silica-related diseases in Australian workers have risen substantially in recent years, with a disproportionate number of diagnoses among engineered stone workers.
While supporting the move for its safety value, TCE Stone Auburn manager Gavin Li said consumers would end up paying a lot more.
He said a lot of manufacturers switched about 20 years ago to engineered stone, such as Caesarstone, which was not manufactured in Australia, because it was cheaper and easier to work with than natural stone.
“We used to wholesale engineered stone but now only work with natural stone; it’s a lot more fragile and takes a lot longer but, of course, it’s safer and there is no smell,” he said.
“Apart from the dust and particles flying around when you worked with engineered stone, the chemical odour from the quartz and resin was always bad.
“Most businesses saw this coming and have already made the switch to natural stone.”
Bunnings has also withdrawn its range of engineered stone products.
“The vast majority of bench tops we sell are laminate or timber, and we will continue to work with our suppliers on bringing alternatives to customers in the coming months,” Bunnings Director of Merchandise, Jen Tucker said.
SafeWork NSW will continue its work ensuring compliance with work health and safety requirements including site visits and issuing penalties to any operator who is non-compliant.
The NSW Government also welcomes the Commonwealth’s commitment to implement an eventual import ban on engineered stone.