Silica dust is generated in high levels when workers cut, shape, or polish engineered stone. Exposure to silica dust from engineered stone has led to a rapid increase in the number of workers developing the serious lung disease silicosis in Australia.
The prohibition will ban a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) from carrying out work, or directing or allowing a worker to carry out work, on or with engineered stone. This includes manufacturing, supplying, processing and installing engineered stone.
Safe Work Australia will draft amendments to the model WHS Regulations prohibiting the use of engineered stone which will be provided to WHS ministers. The prohibition will not apply to the repair, minor modification, removal or disposal of engineered stone installed prior to the prohibition. For the amendments to the model WHS Regulations to apply, each jurisdiction will need to implement them separately through amendments to their jurisdictional WHS regulations.
Safe Work Australia will develop a national framework to ensure anyone working with engineered stone products installed prior to the prohibition is doing so safely.
Safe Work Australia will also develop guidance to support PCBUs and workers understand how amendments to the model WHS Regulations will affect them and help them prepare for the changes.
Before a prohibition comes into effect
Until the prohibition of engineered stone comes into effect, workers and businesses can continue to work with engineered stone in a controlled way.
Under the model WHS Regulations, if you are cutting, grinding, trimming, sanding, abrasive polishing or drilling engineered stone using power tools or other mechanical plant, you must use one of the following:
- a water suppression (wet cutting) system
- an on-tool dust extraction system, or
- local exhaust ventilation system.
All workers who process engineered stone must also be provided with and wear respiratory protective equipment.
See our resources on working safely with engineered stone for more information.
When a prohibition comes into effect
WHS ministers unanimously agreed to prohibit the use, supply and manufacture of all engineered stone with the majority of jurisdictions to commence the prohibition from 1 July 2024. Jurisdictions will manage arrangements for working with engineered stone products installed prior to the prohibition on the basis of a national framework developed by Safe Work Australia.
Safe Work Australia is unable to provide further information on what is in or out of scope of the prohibition until WHS ministers have endorsed the amendments to the model WHS laws.
- Safe Work Australia media release 13 December 2023
- WHS ministers’ meeting 13 December 2023 – Communique
- Questions and answers about the prohibition on the use of engineered stone
- Questions and answers about the impact analysis and consultation
- Crystalline silica and silicosis
- Prohibition on the use of engineered stone - Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Australian Government (dewr.gov.au)
- Decision regulation impact statement: Prohibition on the use of engineered stone
- Be Silica Smart
- Occupational lung diseases resources
Stay up to date with your state or territory regulations by contacting your WHS regulator.