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State and Federal governments agree engineered stone ban  

Australia will institute a world-first ban on engineered stone from July 1 next year following a decision from state and federal work health ministers.   

The decision follows a strong push from advocate groups to prohibit the use of the product due to its links to severe dust-related illnesses, including silicosis. In recent years, insurers have prepared for increasing risks, with some raising their reserves for liabilities relating to silicosis following an uptick in cases.  

Last month, a Safe Work Australia report called for the ban after it found that a “disproportionate number” of workers in engineered stone-related industries were being diagnosed with more severe and rapid cases of silicosis.   

Safe Work Australia CEO Marie Boland says engineered stone poses an “unacceptable risk” to workers and will implore the regulator to “act immediately” on the decision.  

“Workplace exposure to respirable crystalline silica has led to an unacceptable increase in the number of cases of silicosis and other silica-related diseases,” Safe Work Australia CEO Marie Boland said.   

“Expert analysis shows that silica dust from engineered stone poses unique hazards and there is no evidence that low silica engineered stone is safe to work with.”   

“This prohibition will make Australian workplaces safer and healthier.”    

Advocates for the ban have highlighted porcelain, granite and natural stone as safer replacements for products typically utilised by engineered stone, given their lower concentrations of silica.   

The governments say they will hold a meeting next year to discuss the need for a transition period for any ongoing contracts relating to engineered stone products. Businesses have been told to refrain from entering any contracts from the start of the new year ahead of the mid-year ban.   

CFMEU National Secretary Zach Smith, who helped lead its “Stop This Killer Stone” campaign, says the decision marked an “incredibly special day for Australian workers”.