Published: 02/11/2023
Category: Work Health and Safety
Published: 02/11/2023
Category: Work Health and Safety

Safe Work Australia has called unequivocally for the ‘Prohibition on the use of all engineered stone’ in their landmark report, released publicly last Friday. 

Safe Work’s findings and recommendations align with the message that the union movement has been campaigning on for several years. 

There’s simply no excuse for continuing to use engineered stone – a dangerous fashion product, not an essential building material – when we know it’s costing workers’ lives and livelihoods. 

A key recommendation: ban it, or more lives will be lost

And the advice of these experts is clear. A complete ban on all engineered stone is the only sure-fire way of protecting workers from contracting this incurable and often fatal disease caused by exposure to silica. 

Liam O’ Brien
ACTU Assistant Secretary

Liam O' Brien  -  ACTU Assistant Secretary

The core message of the report couldn’t be simpler – banning engineered stone outright is the only way to protect workers’ lives. 

The report also confirms there is absolutely no evidence that a safe level of silica content in engineered stone exists.  

What we do know is that stonemasons working directly with these products will always be at risk of inhaling fine silica dust, even when safety precautions are in place. 

There is no toxicological evidence of a ‘safe’ threshold of crystalline silica content, or that the other components of lower silica engineered stone products (e.g. amorphous silica including recycled glass, feldspar) do not pose additional risks to worker health 

Decision Regulation Impact Statement: Prohibition on the use of engineered stone, Safe Work Australia

Banning this harmful product is the right thing to do. 

Since the first silicosis case linked to engineered stone was diagnosed in 2015, it’s become clear that cases are proportionally much higher in stonemasons who work with engineered stone, compared to silicosis cases in other industries – including mining and tunnelling. 

We see this in statistics from states like Victoria, where 1 in 4 stonemasons who work with engineered stone contract silicosis. 

Adding to this concern, there is substantial evidence that silicosis contracted through working with engineered stone is associated with a faster disease progression and higher mortality. 

Next steps to ban engineered stone

It’s now up to state and federal governments – who’ve had the report since August – to act on Safe Work Australia’s recommendations, and to do so before more lives are lost and irreversibly damaged. 

As unionists, we will continue to call on governments to accept the recommendation and bring about an outright ban immediately. 

If government doesn’t act to ban this life-destroying product, then the trade union movement has committed to joining with the CFMEU to ban the manufacture, transport and use of engineered stone. 

Get behind the campaign to ban engineered stone and sign our petition below. 

Help ban engineered stone

Safe Work Australia report calls for complete ban on engineered stone

Safe Work Australia report calls for complete ban on engineered stone