Wednesday, April 24, 2024

South Australia to ban engineered stone practices

South Australia is set to outlaw dangerous practices associated with engineered stone in a bid to help prevent the spread of dust diseases.

New regulations will introduce an express prohibition on the uncontrolled processing of engineered stone products, in line with recent changes by SafeWork Australia to model work health and safety laws.

“We know silicosis is a rapidly growing problem across Australia. These new regulations are an immediate step to protect the health and safety of workers, ahead of the national meeting of WHS Ministers later this year which will consider further regulatory action on engineered stone,” said Industrial Relations Minister, Kyam Maher.

“I am pleased these new regulations have widespread support from unions, business groups, and safety professionals across South Australia.

“I look forward to the national meeting of WHS Ministers later this year which will consider expert advice on options for regulating engineered stone.

“However, I want to be clear – the option is on the table for us to go it alone and pursue an engineered stone ban on a state level if there is no decisive national action,” he said.

Under the regulations it will be an offence for a person conducting a business or undertaking to direct or allow a worker to process engineered stone without specific control measures in place to minimise the risk of silica dust inhalation.

All workers involved in cutting, grinding, trimming, sanding, or drilling engineered stone products must be provided with respiratory protective equipment, and use a dust control system such as a water suppressant or exhaust ventilation.

These regulations carry penalties of up to $6,000 for an individual or $30,000 for a body corporate, in addition to existing criminal offences under the WHS Act which provide for up to 5 years imprisonment and fines of up to $3 million for reckless conduct which exposes a person to the risk of death or serious injury or illness.

The new regulations will come into effect from 1 September 2023.

Commonwealth, State and Territory WHS Ministers are due to meet later this year to consider further national action on engineered stone, including a potential import ban and new regulations to manage high risk crystalline silica processes.

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