Engineered stone ban takes effect in Victoria

Monday, 08 July, 2024

Engineered stone ban takes effect in Victoria

Work involving the manufacture, supply, processing or installation of engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs is now banned in Victoria, under Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. The ban came into effect on 1 July 2024 and applies to all Victorian employers, regardless of any previous contractual obligations. Any attempt to avoid the prohibition will be subject to compliance and enforcement action, including prosecution and potentially significant fines.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Sam Jenkin said WorkSafe’s silica enforcement team will visit manufacturers and processors — including unannounced visits — to ensure the products they are working with are permitted under the new regulations.

“Inspectors will expect duty holders to be able to provide relevant information about the products they are working with and may take offcut samples for testing to determine if a product is engineered stone,” Jenkin said.

The new regulations define engineered stone as an artificial product containing 1% or more crystalline silica, created by combining natural stone with water, resins or pigments that becomes hardened. Concrete or cement products, bricks or pavers, ceramic wall or floor tiles, roof tiles, grout, mortar, render or plasterboard, or porcelain or sintered stone products that don’t contain resins are excluded.

An exception to the prohibition allows the removal, repair or modification of engineered stone benchtops, panels or slabs installed before 1 July; this work does not require notification to WorkSafe but must comply with existing control requirements for on-tool water suppression, dust extraction devices and respiratory protection equipment and regulations for high-risk crystalline silica work.

Jenkin said employers are also permitted to dispose of engineered stone, whether previously installed or not, as part of a usual approach to waste management. “We understand there may be excess stock of uninstalled engineered stone held by businesses such as suppliers and distributors that can no longer be used. For the purposes of Victoria’s prohibition, WorkSafe will not consider supply to have occurred if engineered stone is sent to another jurisdiction that has a transition period in place,” Jenkin said.

WorkSafe advises employers, including former engineered stone licence holders, to ensure employees who are likely to be exposed to crystalline silica risks are given information, instruction and training in the risks and control measures.

WorkSafe has also released guidance to support employers and workers to understand their ongoing obligations. WorkSafe will also run a “Silica dust can be deadly” campaign throughout July to remind workers and managers in the construction and stonemason industries of the ban. Those unsure whether the prohibition will apply to their individual circumstances should consider obtaining independent legal advice.

Image credit:

Related News

Engineered stone ban now in effect across Australia

Every state and territory in Australia has now prohibited the manufacture, supply, processing and...

SWA releases guidance to support engineered stone ban

Safe Work Australia has released new guidance regarding the ban on the manufacture, supply,...

Qld asbestos manufacturer fined $1.21 million

A Queensland asbestos manufacturer has been fined for general damages and loss of life expectancy...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd