26 September 2023

Silicosis safety scheme cuts through

Start the conversation

Victoria is to introduce an Australian-first safety scheme for the engineered stone industry in an attempt to reduce the risk of workers contracting deadly silicosis disease.

Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy announced the scheme at Silicosis Summit: A preventative approach, which brought WorkSafe and industry together to discuss the prevention of silica dust exposure in the workplace.

“Consultation is now underway to design the scheme, which will ensure licensees have appropriate safety measures in place to protect workers from exposure to silica dust,” Ms Hennessy said.

“Silicosis is caused by breathing in tiny silica particles which can cause incurable scarring of the lungs,” she said.

“In severe cases patients will need a lung transplant and, tragically, death is a real possibility.”

Ms Hennessy said that under the proposed licensing scheme, any employer who planned to work with engineered stone would be required to obtain a licence.

“The proposed scheme would also restrict the supply of engineered stone to businesses or individuals who hold a valid licence,” she said.

“Existing users of engineered stone would have 12 months to apply to WorkSafe for a licence.”

She said the licensing scheme built on a State action plan which included a ban on dry cutting; a tough new compliance code; free health assessments for stonemasons and a targeted enforcement blitz by WorkSafe inspectors.

“Tragically, WorkSafe has accepted 123 claims for silica related diseases since 1 January 2019, up from 28 in 2018,” Ms Hennessy said.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.