Institute backs Australia's move to ban engineered stone - Institute for Respiratory Health

Institute backs Australia’s move to ban engineered stone

Thursday, December 14, 2023 | Uncategorised

The Institute for Respiratory Health, leading researchers in chronic lung diseases like silicosis, proudly announces its full support for Australia’s groundbreaking decision to ban engineered stone.

This unprecedented move comes in response to a concerning surge in cases of silicosis among workers in the industry, reflecting the nation’s commitment to prioritising the wellbeing of its workforce.

Australia has taken the lead globally by becoming the first country to enforce a comprehensive ban on engineered stone, a popular material known for its affordability and durability, extensively used in kitchens and bathrooms.

The decision, unanimously agreed upon by Commonwealth, state and territory workplace ministers this week, signals a collective effort to address the growing public health crisis.

Starting from July 1, 2024, the ban will be implemented in most states and territories. This progressive measure aims to mitigate the alarming rise in silicosis cases attributed to exposure to unsafe levels of silica dust during the manufacturing and processing of engineered stone.

To bolster public health protection, the federal government will also ban the importation of engineered stone, adding an extra layer of enforcement at the border.

Ms Melita Markey, Director of the Respiratory Health Institute said, “Recent research indicates that one in four stonemasons will develop silicosis, a potentially fatal yet entirely preventable disease linked to silica dust exposure.

“While this ban is a positive step, we cannot forget the thousands already exposed. Many struggle to breathe, requiring lung transplants and facing premature death. Immediate public health funding for lung disease research and pastoral care is essential. We must ensure these workers and their families do not endure tragic deaths similar to asbestos victims, despite an asbestos ban.

“We hope to see steps to provide research funding in this space.”

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