One work-related death is one too many. Like the unions, we want work in our industry to be safe. Master Builders Australia wants to ensure workplaces are free from high-risk silica hazards and that any regulatory changes are effective and doing what they are designed to do.
We strongly support additional work being undertaken on silica-related exposure risks and we acknowledge the concerning rates of preventable lung disease caused by uncontrolled dust exposure, particularly when working with engineered stone.
Master Builders’ focus has always been on education and awareness of workplace hazards and we will continue to work with regulators and government to ensure any additional regulation is clear, practicable and will lead to improved safety outcomes.
Following the decision to task Safe Work Australia (SWA) to undertake further analysis on a prohibition of the use of engineered stone, we stress the importance for government to undertake extensive consultation to ensure the impacts arising from any future decisions are well known and understood.
Manufacturers have invested significant funds into developing new, innovative products with low silica content in response to concerns about the high percentage of silica in current engineered stone. Any blanket ban that is not risk proportionate would send the wrong message to businesses that are innovating and investing to continuously improve products and processes to minimise risk.
Master Builders continues to work closely with WHS Regulators to tackle silica hazards at the industry level, and build on the substantial work already done to help workplaces control silica-related hazards, including reductions in the workplace exposure standard.
The decision by governments to tackle this issue in a nationally coordinated way is to be commended and we emphasise the importance of a clear and consistent approach.
As part of consultations over the next six months, we urge the government to prioritise industry-wide testing on its effectiveness in successfully controlling silica related risk. This would address the significant deficiency in contemporary exposure data and allow both industry and governments alike to get an accurate understanding of where silica-related hazards exist and how to best tackle them.
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071