Engineered stone ban now in force

Work involving the manufacture, supply, processing or installation of engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs is now banned in Victoria.


The prohibition on the use of engineered stone under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations takes effect today and applies to all Victorian employers, regardless of any previous contractual obligations.

Any attempt to avoid the prohibition will be subject to strong compliance and enforcement action, including possible prosecution and potentially significant fines.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Sam Jenkin said inspectors would be out in force to ensure compliance with the regulations.

"From today, WorkSafe's silica enforcement team will be visiting manufacturers and processors – including unannounced visits – to ensure the products they are working with are permitted under the new regulations," Mr Jenkin said.

"Inspectors will expect duty holders to be able to provide relevant information about the products they are working with and may take offcut samples for testing to determine if a product is engineered stone."

The new regulations define engineered stone as an artificial product containing one per cent or more crystalline silica, created by combining natural stone with water, resins or pigments that becomes hardened.

Concrete or cement products, bricks or pavers, ceramic wall or floor tiles, roof tiles, grout, mortar, render or plasterboard, or porcelain or sintered stone products that don’t contain resin are excluded.

An exception to the prohibition will allow the removal, repair or modification of engineered stone benchtops, panels or slabs installed before 1 July.

This work will not require notification to WorkSafe, but must comply with existing control requirements for on-tool water suppression, dust extraction devices and respiratory protection equipment and regulations for high-risk crystalline silica work.

Mr Jenkin said employers were also permitted to dispose of engineered stone, whether previously installed or not, as part of a usual approach to waste management.

"We understand there may be excess stock of uninstalled engineered stone held by businesses such as suppliers and distributors that can no longer be used," he said.

"For the purposes of Victoria’s prohibition, WorkSafe will not consider supply to have occurred if engineered stone is sent to another jurisdiction that has a transition period in place."

Employers, including former engineered stone licence holders, must continue to ensure employees who are likely to be exposed to crystalline silica risks are given information, instruction and training in the risks and control measures and continue to monitor and report on their health.

New WorkSafe guidance is now available to support Victorian employers and workers to understand their ongoing obligations. 

Those unsure whether the prohibition will apply to their individual circumstances should consider obtaining independent legal advice.

WorkSafe's "Silica dust can be deadly" campaign will run throughout July to remind workers and managers in the construction and stonemason industries of the ban as well as the risks of crystalline silica dust.