Construction

Australia Takes Pioneering Step: Engineered Stone Ban Announced

Australia Takes Pioneering Step: Engineered Stone Ban Announced
2 min
Dec 18 , 2023

In a groundbreaking move, Australia has become the first country to announce a nationwide ban on engineered stone, a popular material used in kitchens and bathrooms, following a surge in cases of the lung disease silicosis among workers. This crucial decision, made by Commonwealth, state, and territory workplace ministers, marks a significant milestone in prioritizing the health and safety of workers.

Key Points:

  • Engineered stone to be banned in most states and territories from July 2024.
  • The ban is a response to the rise in silicosis cases among workers in the industry.
  • Ministers unanimously agree on the ban, with a start date of July 1, 2024, in most regions.

• Silicosis Concerns

The decision to ban engineered stone comes in response to the alarming increase in silicosis cases among workers handling this material, primarily used for kitchen benches and bathroom vanities. Silicosis, a potentially fatal lung disease caused by inhaling unsafe levels of silica dust, has become a growing concern in recent years, particularly affecting young workers in the prime of their careers.

• Transition Period and Federal Measures

Recognizing the impact of the ban on existing contracts, ministers have agreed to a "transition period" for engineered stone contracts entered into before the announcement. Additionally, the federal government plans to impose a ban on the importation of engineered stone to enhance enforcement measures at the border.

• Industry Reactions 

While trade unions, health organizations, and personal injury law firms have welcomed the ban, some industry stakeholders, like Caesarstone, expressed disappointment. The decision has sparked discussions about the need for alternative materials and the potential impact on the construction and homebuilding industry.

• Alternative Materials

For those seeking alternatives to engineered stone, various materials such as natural stone, porcelain, laminate, tiles, concrete, and wood/timber can be considered, depending on the desired look and application.

• Looking Ahead

This decisive move by Australia sets a precedent in prioritizing worker safety and raises questions about the future of similar materials worldwide. The ban is expected to save lives and protect workers from the dangers of respirable crystalline silica.

Conclusion

As Australia takes the lead in banning engineered stone, the decision reflects a commitment to safeguarding the well-being of workers. While the ban will undoubtedly bring changes to the industry, it underscores the importance of prioritizing health and safety. As more details emerge and discussions continue, the impact of this historic decision will likely resonate beyond Australia, prompting a re-evaluation of workplace safety standards globally.