Engineered Stone Ban a Life Saving Win for Queensland Workers

Generations of Queensland workers will be safe from life threatening harm thanks to the Miles Labor Government’s announcement today of a ban on the national use, supply and manufacture of engineered stone benchtops.

Implementation of the national ban, campaigned for by Queensland Unions, will come into effect on 1 July 2024 and includes the use, supply or manufacture of engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs.

The introduction of this historic legislation follows International Workers’ Memorial Day ceremonies last week, where Queensland Unions raised the alarm on the risks of continued exposure to the deadly dust disease, and called on the Government to legislate reform as a priority.

“Government and employers know engineered stone is deadly, and can lead to insidious diseases like silicosis,” Ms King said.

“With this level of understanding comes an urgent responsibility to ensure workers are kept safe from its life destroying harm.

“This ban means engineered stone benchtops can no longer be manufactured or sold in Queensland, and any person who does so knowingly that creates a further exposure to silica dusts should be prosecuted for industrial manslaughter.”

Ms King said exposure to silica dust was first known as a deadly hazard in Australia in the 1850s when the first eight-hour day was secured in recognition that stonemasons were highly likely to die by time they turned 35 because of their daily exposure to this deadly dust.

“Sadly, with the shift to the use of engineered stone benchtops from the 1990s, Australian workers were once again exposed to unacceptable levels of silica dust which leads to the deadly silicosis disease,” she said.

In 2018, the Queensland Government was the first Government to take regulatory action against the risk of exposure to silica from workers exposed to high levels of silica dust from cutting and manufacturing of engineered stone benchtops followed by other states.

“Too many workers across Australia have continued to be exposed, which is completely unacceptable.

“There is no evidence that the regulatory controls put in place up until now have reduced the risk of contracting silicosis and related diseases, making the legacy of this ban utterly life changing,” she said.

Queensland Unions commends the Miles Labor Government on introducing this legislation, further demonstrating a Government backing workers and supporting the future health and safety of Queenslanders in every workplace setting.

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