Engineered stone supplier fined for silica dust exposure

Tuesday, 21 May, 2024

Engineered stone supplier fined for silica dust exposure

Engineered stone provider Edstein Creative Pty Ltd has been fined $375,000 after it exposed a worker to a risk of serious illness over a period of six years and 10 months, having failed to take reasonably practicable steps to minimise exposure to airborne respirable crystalline silica. The company pleaded guilty to the charge in December 2023, as it failed to take adequate actions to reduce the risk of exposure to airborne respirable crystalline silica while undertaking tasks associated with the installation of engineered stone products, including cutting, grinding, drilling and polishing.

SafeWork NSW commenced these proceedings in 2021, making them the first proceedings in NSW relating to silica dust exposure under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW). The growth in deadly silicosis over the past decade is the reason why NSW, along with other states and territories and the Commonwealth, agreed to ban engineered stone from 1 July.

SafeWork NSW has also completed two successful prosecutions in relation to crystalline silica dust exposure in the workplace, as well as having a number of matters before the District Court and under active investigation. In 2023, Number One Stone Marble and Granite Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $25,000 for breaching section 33 of the Act for failing to comply with their duty under section 19(1) of the Act. N Moit and Sons (NSW) Pty Ltd was also convinced and fined $75,000 in 2023, for breaching section 33 of the Act for failing to comply with their duty under section 19(1) of the Act.

Silicosis, which is caused by breathing in small particles of silica dust, can have a devastating effect on the lungs and is increasingly prevalent in the engineered stone industry. Inspectors from SafeWork NSW will continue to carry out compliance actions in the engineered stone industry, including site visits and issuing penalties to non-compliant operators.

The Head of SafeWork NSW, Trent Curtin, said these recent prosecutions demonstrate SafeWork’s commitment to ensuring that employers who do not take safety seriously will face consequences.

“The upcoming ban on engineered stone is a significant move in the fight against silicosis and will ensure workers across the state are much safer at work. In the meantime, SafeWork inspectors will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to workers’ lives being endangered through exposure to deadly crystalline silica dust,” Curtin said.

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