Engineered stone ban

Before a ban comes into effect

Until the ban on engineered stone comes into effect, workers and businesses can continue to work with engineered stone in a controlled way.

Under the model WHS Regulations, if you are cutting, grinding, trimming, sanding, abrasive polishing or drilling engineered stone using power tools or other mechanical plant, you must use one of the following:

  • a water suppression (wet cutting) system
  • an on-tool dust extraction system, or
  • local exhaust ventilation system.

All workers who process engineered stone must also be provided with and wear respiratory protective equipment.

See our resources on working safely with engineered stone for more information.

When a ban comes into effect

WHS ministers unanimously agreed to ban the use, supply and manufacture of all engineered stone with the majority of jurisdictions to commence the ban from 1 July 2024. Jurisdictions will manage arrangements for working with engineered stone products installed prior to the ban on the basis of a national framework developed by Safe Work Australia.

For further information on what is included within the scope of the ban please visit our FAQs webpage.

Jurisdictions will also need to implement amendments to their own WHS laws to give effect to the ban on the use of engineered stone.  For questions about transitional arrangements and the implementation of the amendments in your jurisdiction, please contact your WHS regulator.

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The Safe Work Australia recommendations to WHS Ministers included:

  • draft amendments to the model WHS Regulations which will give effect to the ban on the use of engineered stone once implemented in each jurisdiction
  • policy parameters for a national framework to consider and assess applications to exempt engineered stone products from the ban
  • policy parameters for a national framework which requires persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) who plan to undertake removal, disposal, repair and minor modification of legacy engineered stone to notify the relevant WHS regulator, and
  • policy parameters for stronger regulation of crystalline silica products (including engineered stone that is not banned) across all industries, including specific requirements for conducting risk assessments, training, and air and health monitoring.

On 22 March 2024, WHS ministers representing the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed to progress a number of amendments to the model WHS Regulations to enable a ban on engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs. WHS ministers also endorsed a stronger regulatory framework to manage to risk of exposure to respirable crystalline silica from other materials and products. The amendments are designed to protect thousands of workers from the health and safety risks arising from respirable crystalline silica (silica dust). Silica dust is generated in high levels when workers cut, shape, or polish engineered stone. Exposure to silica dust from engineered stone has led to a rapid increase in the number of workers developing the serious lung disease silicosis in Australia.

The ban prevents a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) from carrying out work, or directing or allowing a worker to carry out work, on or with engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs. This includes manufacturing, supplying, processing and installing engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs.

Next steps

Following the 22 March meeting, WHS ministers have asked Safe Work Australia to develop:

  • a national framework for working with previously installed engineered stone
  • a national framework for a product exemption process
  • amendments to the model regulations to allow for the supply, installation or processing of engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs between 1 July 2024 and 31 December 2024 for contracts entered into before 31 December 2023, and
  • the new regulations for crystalline silica processes which will be provided to WHS ministers by the end of April 2024.

The ban will not apply to the removal, repair, minor modification or disposal of engineered stone installed prior to the ban on 1 July 2024. For the amendments to the model WHS Regulations to apply, each jurisdiction will need to implement them separately through amendments to their jurisdictional WHS laws.

Safe Work Australia will also develop guidance to support PCBUs and workers understand how amendments to the model WHS Regulations will affect them and help them prepare for the changes.

More information

Stay up to date with your state or territory regulations by contacting your WHS regulator.

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