Australia forges ahead with proposed restrictions on engineered stone

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This website is from Natural Stone Specialist magazine, the only independent magazine dedicated exclusively to the stone industry in the UK and Ireland.

Following on from its consultation earlier this year which invited responses from "persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), employer and worker representatives, WHS professionals, medical professionals, academics, government agencies, industry and peak bodies", Safe Work Australia has published its Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) concerning the fabrication and use of engineered stone.

A final decision is due later this year but the report from the Australian Government statutory agency highlights several options:

Option 1: Prohibition on the use of all engineered stone
Option 2: Prohibition on the use of engineered stone containing 40% or more crystalline silica
Option 3: As for option 2, with an accompanying licensing scheme for PCBUs working with engineered stone containing less than 40% crystalline silica.

The report goes on to say that: "Consultation on the proposed options showed clear stakeholder support for some form of prohibition (rather than maintaining the status quo), with preferences split across the options proposed. Only 16 of the 114 submissions did not support any of the proposed options. Unions, professional organisations and peak health bodies supported Option 1 (a prohibition on the use of all engineered stone). Industry groups, while not necessarily supportive of a prohibition of engineered stone, acknowledged there is an issue with silicosis in engineered stone workers. They consider it can be addressed through regulation of high risk crystalline silica processes previously agreed by WHS ministers (Option 5a in the Silica Decision RIS). The majority of stakeholders acknowledged there is not currently enough evidence to determine a threshold crystalline silica content at which engineered stone could be worked with without risk (for example, the 40% threshold proposed in Options 2 and 3). Around half of PCBUs working with or supplying engineered stone supported Option 3, commenting that a licensing scheme would enhance compliance in the sector."

For more information and to read the full statement, visit the Safe Work Australia website