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Navigating the Upcoming Prohibition on Engineered Stone: Implications for Tilings and Kitchen Installations

WHS Guardian

2 min read

May 30

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As of 1 July 2024, New South Wales will implement a significant regulatory change that will have a profound impact on various construction and renovation industries, particularly for professionals working with engineered stone. This includes tilers, kitchen installers, and others involved in interior renovations and constructions that traditionally utilize this material. The new regulations, driven by health concerns associated with silica exposure, ban the use, supply, and manufacture of engineered stone. Here's what professionals in these sectors need to know:


Understanding the Ban

Engineered stone, widely used for its durability and aesthetic appeal in countertops and tiles, contains high levels of crystalline silica. When cut, ground, or polished, the material releases fine silica dust, which can cause severe lung diseases like silicosis. Given the health risks, NSW's decision to implement a complete ban is aligned with actions taken in other regions and is backed by substantial evidence indicating no safe level of exposure (SafeWork NSW).


Impact on Industry Professionals

  1. Immediate Operational Changes: For tilers and kitchen installers, the direct implication is the need to shift towards alternative materials that do not contain high levels of crystalline silica. This shift must happen promptly as the ban takes effect in mid-2024, meaning that any current or future projects involving engineered stone need to be re-evaluated and adjusted accordingly.

  2. Increased Compliance and Penalties: There has been a stringent focus on compliance, with doubled penalties for businesses that fail to adhere to silica dust safety regulations. Professionals in the industry must ensure they are not only shifting away from using banned materials but also rigorously adhering to safety standards when dealing with permissible silica-containing materials.

  3. Handling Existing Installations: While the ban primarily affects new uses of engineered stone, there are also implications for handling existing installations. Work involving the modification, repair, or removal of existing engineered stone installations will be subject to strict safety guidelines to manage and mitigate silica dust exposure.



Preparing for the Change

  • Exploring Alternatives: It's crucial for businesses to begin researching and testing alternative materials that offer similar benefits without the health risks. This might include materials like porcelain, ceramic, or advanced composites.

  • Training and Education: Updating training programs to ensure that workers are skilled in using new materials and are fully aware of the health risks associated with silica dust is essential. Additionally, educating clients about the reasons for material changes and the benefits of alternatives will be important.

  • Safety Enhancements: Investing in dust suppression and extraction technologies will be more critical than ever to comply with broader silica dust regulations that remain stringent for other materials.


Looking Forward

The ban on engineered stone marks a significant shift towards prioritizing worker health and safety over traditional material choices. While it poses challenges, particularly in the short term as businesses adjust, it also provides an opportunity for industry innovation and could lead to broader adoption of safer, more sustainable building materials.


For further guidance and detailed regulatory information, visiting SafeWork NSW at https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au is recommended. Engaging with industry groups for support and resources can also help businesses navigate this transition smoothly.

WHS Guardian

2 min read

May 30

150

0

0

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