Published: 24/10/2023
Category: Work Health and Safety
Published: 24/10/2023
Category: Work Health and Safety

The union movement has today resolved to support the ban announced by the CFMEU and take all necessary steps to end the use engineered stone by the middle of next year, if government bans are not in place by then.

This will mean union members will not allow engineered stone to be imported, manufactured or used in Australia.

These actions will protect the thousands of workers who currently work with this deadly fashion item and who are exposed to high levels of silica dust. 

In some states as many as 1 in 4 stonemasons who have undergone health screening have been found to have the incurable, debilitating and sometimes fatal lung disease silicosis. 

The reality is that workers have lost their lives after contracting silicosis from working with the deadly fashion products. 

It’s time to draw a line in the sand and ban the use of deadly engineered stone products. Workers’ lives are on the line. 

This is something every unionist needs to get behind, because the right to a safe workplace is fundamental, no matter what your job is. 

The silicosis epidemic silent no longer

Since the first case of silicosis associated with engineered stone was reported in 2015, the numbers of diagnoses has risen dramatically. 

While silicosis cases have been found in workers across a range of industries and work silica-containing materials, a disproportionate number of silicosis diagnoses have emerged from those working specifically with engineered stone. 

In 2021, a National Dust Disease Task Force report found nearly one in four workers exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust from engineered stone have been diagnosed with silicosis and other silica-related diseases. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Knowing what we know now, there is no justification for the continued use of engineered stone and other dangerous silica products. 

Unions vote to ban engineered stone. From left to right: Shaye Candish, NSW Nurses and Midwives’​ Association, Lucy Weber, CFMEU, Liam O’Brien, ACTU, Mich-Elle Myers, MUA, Raven Marris, ETU

Unions vote to ban engineered stone

The union movement earlier this year welcomed greater regulations on the manufacture and use of silica-based products, but as the evidence shows, there is no safe level of silica when it comes to engineered stone and the threat it poses to workers. 

If the government doesn’t ban this deadly product, then, as unionists, we have the responsibility to take mobilise and take matters into our own hands to save workers lives – and that’s exactly what we’ll do.  

Safe working conditions enjoyed by workers today were not given to us by governments or employers, 
they were fought for and won by workers and their unions. Today the ACTU executive sends a clear message that governments should ban this harmful fashion produc

Liam O’ Brien
ACTU Assistant Secretary

Liam O' Brien  -  ACTU Assistant Secretary

In practical terms, this means union members involved at any point of the supply chain will refuse to so much as touch an engineered stone product. 

Whether it’s taking deliveries on the wharf, transporting materials by truck, or installing engineered stone on a worksite – unionists will stand their ground in solidarity with stonemasons, because it’s the right thing to do.  

Will you help save lives?

Unions vote to ban engineered stone

Unions vote to ban engineered stone