SA puts deadline on silicosis-causing engineered stone

Silicosis occurs when someone is exposed to crystalised silica. Photo: Getty

Silicosis occurs when someone is exposed to crystalised silica. Photo: Getty Photo: Getty

South Australia has threatened to go it alone if engineered stone is not banned nationwide by the end of the year.

Safe Work Australia last month recommended a ban on the use of engineered stone products to prevent workers from developing deadly diseases and cancers.

State and federal governments have been unable to agree on a national approach, despite the safety watchdog’s recommendation.

South Australian Industrial Relations Minister Kyam Maher announced on Thursday that the state would be backing a ban on the product.

“The expert evidence is clear there is no safe threshold of respirable silica content in engineered stone,” he said.

“If there is no decisive national action on this issue by the end of the year, SA reserves the right to go it alone with a ban on a state level.”

Maher said he was “hopeful” other states would follow suit in a national cabinet meeting in December.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll see that national ban,” he said.

“But if that doesn’t happen we’ll look to that ourselves in this state.”

Last week national retailer Bunnings joined IKEA in ditching the product, which has been proven to cause cancers.

Workers can be exposed to silica dust if their jobs involve breaking, crushing, grinding or milling materials high in silica, such as engineered stone benchtops, bricks, tiles, concrete and some plastic materials.

More than 600,000 workers are exposed to materials with high silica content in sectors such as mining, building and construction, tunnelling and manufacturing.

Unions have backed calls for the ban, alongside other states including NSW and QLD.


Topics: Silicosis
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