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The urgent need to ban engineered stone

May 12, 2023

The Australian Workers’ Union has renewed its long-standing call to ban the use of all engineered stone products which first flooded the Australian marketplace in the 1990’s.

The crystalline silica content in engineered stone can vary but is typically up to 95%. Crystalline silica particles are released into the environment when work is conducted on the stone with use of power tools. Stonemasons perform work on this product and are at the greatest risk of developing silicosis. An estimated 10 to 25 percent of stonemasons are said to have the disease.

Silicosis is a fatal, but preventable, lung disease caused by exposure to high levels of silica dust.

The AWU’s Silica Dust Kills Campaign received significant media attention when Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes aired an expose into the deadly impact of silica on workers and stonemasons whose lives and those of their families has been ruined by Australia’s love of shiny benchtops made from engineered stone.

Following the federal government’s call to investigate a ban on engineered stone, the AWU made an submission to Safe Work Australia calling for a ban on engineered stone regardless of silica content and the introduction of regulations to manage the handling of existing products.

You can read the AWU submission in full here. 

AWU National Secretary Dan Walton says there is no time to waste in implementing a ban.

“Unless urgent action is taken now, we can expect to see a massive surge in silicosis cases in the coming years and decades” Mr Walton said.

“The Federal Government can very easily avoid that right now by banning the use of all engineered stone products. It’s the right thing to do and it will save lives.”

To get involved with our campaign, click here.

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