Commitment Interruptus on engineered stone

Trade unionists in the United Kingdom have a similar battle over the safe exposure limits to silica dust that Australia “resolved” a few years ago. It should not be long before the UK pushes for a ban on the import of engineered stone or starts arguing over the safety of the product when silica content is reduced to 40%.

Some recent parliamentary argy-bargy in Australia over the cutting of engineered stone was illustrative of some of the issues and lobbying.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

The continuation of engineered stone can no longer be supported

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) is an effective government lobbyist for its members who can be relied on to make a submission to whatever opportunity the governments offer. The HIA does not provide details of membership numbers or names, but it does list its sponsors and partners. Recently HIA made a submission on “the prohibition on the use of engineered stone”. Its position held few surprises.

Perhaps also unsurprising is Kate Cole’s justification for a ban on engineered stone.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Engineered stone and deadly silica risks seem here to stay

So Australia did not ban the importation of engineered stone. The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) have issued a Communique and a joint media release outlining their decision. It’s a political slap in the face to the trade unions who went hard on the ban.

Many organisations supported the call to ban the importation and use of engineered stone due to the unacceptable risk associated with cutting the product. Many were strident in need for the ban. Even the Federal Minister for Workplace Relations, Tony Burke, was talking tough on the morning of the critical meeting of the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities. So what went wrong?

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Silicosis campaign is about safety but is also about politics

The calls for banning engineered stone‘s importation are curious and likely to be acted on later this week.

Politicians, unions and some OHS associations have undertaken a risk assessment and determined that elimination is the most effective harm prevention strategy. Previous risk assessments of silicosis have been reported on in this blog for some time without banning the material. The risks have not changed even with increased inspection and enforcement. So what has changed? Politics.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Other OHS politics you might have missed

November 2022 was a very busy month of politics (and a football World Cup) which distracted many of us from our usual monitoring of OHS announcements. Below is a summary of some of those from the last couple of weeks.

The South Australian Parliament has sent its Work Health and Safety (Crystalline Silica Dust) Amendment Bill to the Parliamentary Committee on Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation for inquiry and report.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

When a ban is an understandable stunt

Australia has yet to offer a good reason for hazardous engineered stone products not being banned from import and use. On November 23 2022, Australia’s most influential construction union, the CFMEU, stated that it would ban these products from mid-2024 if the Federal Government does not. Trade unions no longer have the level of influence or numbers to achieve these sorts of bans. As with asbestos many years ago, such campaigns risk taking more credit for the potential occupational safety and health reforms than they deserve.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Silicosis risk controls exempted for the moment

In 2019, Dr Graeme Edwards said this of the cutters of engineered stone:

“We can’t just rely on the industry to self-regulate. We need to licence the industry and we need to regulate the product….. If we can’t do this, [banning] is a realistic option.”

Recent research commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and conducted by Curtin University seems to support a ban on the import of engineered stone products with such a high level of silica that cutting them, without suitable controls, can lead to silicosis.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.
Concatenate Web Development
© Designed and developed by Concatenate Aust Pty Ltd
%d bloggers like this: