As we now understand, working with engineered stone can lead to deadly lung and respiratory diseases – including silicosis. Sadly, since the beginning of the year, Victoria has had four workers die from silica related illness and WorkSafe has accepted 59 claims for silica related diseases1. New Regulations that came into effect on 15th November aim to reduce these numbers. The new regulations will also introduce additional oversight of high-risk crystalline silica work across all industries, including construction and earth resources.
The new Regulations aim to increase protection for workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica by:
Victoria is introducing Australia’s first licensing scheme for businesses working with engineered stone to protect workers from exposure to dangerous silica dust. Victorian employers working with engineered stone will be required to prove compliance with safety measures and obtain a licence, to reduce the risks of workers contracting silicosis. Businesses working with engineered stone will require a licence by 15 November 2022.
WorkSafe CEO Colin Radford said licensing the use of engineered stone would ensure the necessary safety measures were in place to protect workers. "Silicosis is a serious disease that can strike down young workers with devastating consequences for them and their families." Mr Radford said1.
Licence holders must comply with new duties, including providing:
Licence applications for working with engineered stone are now open and can be lodged online
The Regulations will be introduced over one year to give you enough time to prepare for the changes to your duties and obligations.
The regulations include infringements or court-imposed fines. A rigorous auditing and compliance structure will support the new licensing scheme and builds on the Government’s action plan to reduce silica-related disease, including a targeted enforcement blitz by WorkSafe inspectors and free silica health screenings for past and present stonemasons.
WorkSafe has made 491 silica related visits to workplaces since 1 January 2021 and issued 199 compliance notices ordering employers to improve their safeguards against exposure to silica dust.
Free health screenings were introduced in 2019. Since then, 1300 Stonemasons have registered for them. About one in six workers who completed the screening have silicosis showing the importance of these new regulations