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Reading: Meeting of Work Health and Safety Ministers

Meeting of Work Health and Safety Ministers

2 min read

28 February 2023

Commonwealth, State and Territory work health and safety ministers met yesterday and agreed on significant measures to advance safety for all in the workplace.

This COAG meeting was an important step in having a final direction for the Industry.

In summary SafeWork Australia (SWA) have been asked to review the appropriate level of silica that they believe will result in the safe handling of engineered stone.

This will be actioned along with a review of Regulations and potentially a Fabricators Licensing requirement.

Consideration will be given to awareness campaigns, further education and WHS changes resulting in severe penalties for breaches.

SWA have been tasked to do this within 6 months.

We believe its highly probable that SWA will recommend a silica content of 40% or less, effective by July 1st  2024, as well as National licensing facilitated at a State level.

Please be assured that Caesarstone’s product range will meet this criterion well in advance of the suggested timelines and we will advise further details in coming weeks.

In summary

Caesarstone® welcomes the commitment of the Commonwealth, States and Territories to work together with industry to address the issue of silicosis through a coordinated national approach, including through greater awareness and stronger regulation of all materials that contain silica.

As Caesarstone® has consistently advocated for a nationally consistent, mandatory licensing scheme for stone fabricators, with a rigorous auditing and enforcement structure to support it, we welcome the commitment to explore a such a scheme.

Caesarstone® looks forward to participating in the Safe Work Australia consultation process for the proposed prohibition on certain types of engineered stone.

Caesarstone® believes the use of low-silica engineered stone – 40% silica content or less – can help combat silicosis provided it is combined with tougher regulation and enforcement of work safety standards.

There is no such thing as ‘safe’ stone for workers; to reduce the risk of silicosis, all stone containing silica must be handled with exactly the same safety equipment and procedures, regardless of its silica content.

In addition, any silica content limits must be accompanied by a strict testing and enforcement regime to ensure that all imported stone complies with the new requirements. 

Caesarstone® will continue to work with our fellow manufacturers, stonemasons, work safety bodies and government to achieve a sustainable stone industry that protects all workers.