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Queensland introduces Code of Practice for stone benchtop industry

Date: 
Thursday, 26 September, 2019 - 11:00
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Queensland

Queensland will introduce Australia’s first Code of Practice for the stone benchtop industry, according to the state’s Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace.

The Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in the stone benchtop industry code of practice 2019 will commence on 31 October 2019 and applies to all fabrication or processing, including during installation, maintenance and removal, of engineered and natural stone benchtops.

“It sets minimum and enforceable standards to ensure silica dust is managed safely and workers are protected,” said minister Grace.

The Code focuses on:

  • Dust control methods to eliminate respirable crystalline silica dust during mechanical processing, including water suppression and on tool dust extraction
  • The use of appropriate respirable protective equipment to safeguard workers
  • Air and health monitoring to check dust controls are effective and there are no changes to workers’ health
  • Safe onsite installation methods, including installation in homes
  • Worker consultation, as well as training, education, instruction and supervision of workers 

The Code was developed in conjunction with 23 organisations including industry associations, unions, medical and technical experts, and stone fabrication businesses and has received broad ranging support.

“This Code goes a long way to ensuring long term behavioural change in an industry that, until recently, has not put worker safety first,” Minister Grace said.

While significant progress has been made in tackling this issue, she noted that one worker has died as a result of silica exposure.

In total 169 workers from the engineered stone industry have had compensation claims for silicosis accepted by WorkCover Queensland, and of those, 24 are for a diagnosis of progressive massive fibrosis.

WorkCover Queensland has funded an initial health screen for more than 1000 current and former workers within the engineered stone industry;

The government is also monitoring occupational dust diseases, including silicosis, through the Queensland Health Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register which commenced on 1 July 2019.

“On the compliance front, we have completed 148 audits of all known engineered stone fabrication workplaces and 598 notices have been issued for offences such as dry cutting, poor dust control, and improper protective equipment,” said Minister Grace.

“Sixteen infringement notices have also been issued with fines totalling $54,000.”