National agreement on engineered stone ban transition

WA businesses will have six months to transition to new laws banning engineered stone products under a national approach agreed by states and territories this month. 

National Work Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation Ministers confirmed draft legislation that will see engineered stone products banned in WA from July 1.  

Engineered stone is used in kitchen benchtops and bathroom vanities.

However, a transitional arrangement will allow for the installation of these products for contracts signed before January 1 this year, provided they are installed by December 31 this year. 

“The Cook Government is aware that there are businesses and consumers who have already signed contracts for engineered stone products, so these contracts will be honoured during the transitional period,” the State Government said. 

New regulations for high-risk silica work will come into effect from September 1. These regulations will apply only to general industries such as construction, as mining workplaces already have suitable regulations in place, the Government said. 

Engineered stone benchtops already installed in homes are excluded and deemed safe. The ban will not apply to products that are already in their finished state, such as sinks. 

The changes are intended to prevent harmful exposure to silica, and future cases of silicosis in WA. 

CCIWA Senior WHS Practitioner Matt Butterworth said engineered stone is defined as an artificial product that:  

  • contains crystalline silica;  
  • is created by combining natural stone materials with other chemical constituents such as water, resins, or pigments; and 
  • undergoes a process to become hardened.  

Dry cutting, trimming, drilling, sanding, grinding or polishing engineered stone without effective controls generates very high levels of silica dust. 

This respirable crystalline silica produced when inhaled will expose workers and others to levels of silica dust that would be expected to exceed the workplace exposure standard.

Responsibility of PCBUs

“A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must not direct or allow workers to undertake uncontrolled dry cutting or processing of engineered stone,” Butterworth said. 

He said the following methods can be used to reduce the risks of silica dust:   

  • a water suppression (wet cutting) system;  
  • an on-tool dust extraction system; or   
  • local exhaust ventilation system.  

WorkSafe WA has a Code of Practice to effectively manage the risks of working with engineered stone. 

More information can also be found at Safe Work Australia’s dedicated website. 

Meanwhile, Phase three of the Asbestos National Strategic Plan has also been released by the Asbestos and Silica Safety and Eradication Agency. 

The strategy builds on the previous phases of this work and aims for all levels of government, along with others, to work together to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia. 

 CCIWA can support PCBUs to understand and prepare for the change. Email [email protected] or call (08) 9365 7746.       

Share This Post

You may also be interested in

Green plant growing on coins next to green growth chart.
Federal Government issues first $7b green bond
Australia’s sustainable finance market achieved a major milestone with the Federal Government’s inaugural green bond issuing $7 billion.
Read more »
Workers Compensation changes are almost here – are you ready?
With less than a month to go, employers need to understand their responsibilities under the new Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 2023.
Read more »
State minimum wage to rise 6.3%
The State minimum wage will increase by 6.3% from July 1 in a move expected to impact about 27,000 employers and 300,000 workers. 
Read more »