Engineered stone ban

14 December 2023

Commonwealth, State and Territory Work Health and Safety (WHS) Ministers have agreed to a national ban on engineered stone as of 1 July 2024.

The Ministers will meet again in March next year to sort out the finer details of the pathway to implementing the ban.

While it is unfortunate not all details are known, we are pleased our advocacy has been heard and there will be a transition arrangement for contracts entered into on or before the date of the announcement (13 December 2023).

Master Builders will continue to advocate for a planned and managed approach to any ban, and for regulatory reform taking into account the impacts on the construction industry.

What do we know right now?

  • The Ministers have accepted the findings and recommendations of the Safe Work Australia Decision Regulation Impact Statement on the prohibition of the use of engineered stone.
  • The ban on the use, supply and manufacture of engineered stone will take effect in Queensland, along with the majority of states and territories, from 1 July 2024.
  • The definition of engineered stone remains as it currently appears in the Model Commonwealth WHS Regulations.
  • Natural stone, and other products containing silica such as bricks and concrete, are not banned.
  • While the Safe Work Australia report found there was a heightened risk with engineered stone, those working with silica-containing products including natural stone must still apply all safety measures.
  • In Queensland, we are leading the way with these safety measures as we have two codes of practice for working with silica – a measure supported by Master Builders.

How will this affect my trade or business?

  • We are seeking further clarity on the details of the transition period, and we’re hoping to find out more before the March meeting. However, we believe for contracts entered into on or before 13 December 2023, engineered stone can still be installed.
  • The Ministers have agreed to appropriate exemptions for activities such as removal, repair, minor modification, and disposal of engineered stone products (legacy products) installed prior to the prohibition.
  • They’ve also given the nod to appropriate exceptions for engineered
    stone products with trace levels of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS)
    (under 1 per cent).

What else is Master Builders calling for?

  • We are urging the government to consider financial compensation for businesses financially impacted by the impending ban:
  • For example, stonemasons, benchtop suppliers and engineered stone manufacturers may need to dump engineered stone products into landfill if they cannot be installed prior to 1 July 2024.
  • Businesses working with engineered stone will also have invested heavily in equipment to ensure safe working practices.
  • We must also acknowledge the need for adequate alternative products to
    be readily available – and there are already several products promoted as ‘silica-free stone’ hitting the market. It’s important these products be
    properly assessed and endorsed where appropriate as technology
    continues to advance.

What happens next?

  • It is important for builders and consumers to be mindful of the upcoming prohibition, and to avoid entering into contracts for engineered stone products that may not be able to be fulfilled.
  • Master Builders will continue to call for greater clarity around the transition to the ban ahead of the March Ministers’ meeting.

Where can I find out more?

You can read the full Work Health and Safety and Workplace Relations Ministers’ communique.

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