Snap inspections and fines warning for engineered stone ban

SafeWork SA recently announced that it will conduct snap inspections of stone businesses to ensure compliance with the new ban on engineered stone.

Under the ban, which prohibits the manufacture, supply, processing and installation of engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs from 1 July 2024, businesses that fail to follow the new work health and safety laws could face fines of up to $42,000, while individual workers or managers who flout the laws could receive fines of up to $8400.

SafeWork SA’s compliance and enforcement campaign will include onsite inspections to ensure workers are not put at risk and to educate businesses on the new mandatory process of notifying the regulator before undertaking permitted work.

Permitted work includes minor modifications, repair and removal of engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs installed prior to the ban.

Failure to notify SafeWork SA could see businesses fined up to $25,000 and individual workers up to $5000.

Businesses will also receive information outlining the regulatory changes and processes to protect workers undertaking permitted work with engineered stone.

Transitional arrangements exist in South Australia, so eligible contracts associated with the installation of engineered stone entered into on or before 31 December 2023 can be fulfilled, providing they are completed by 31 December 2024.

The effect of the ban will be reviewed at a national level through Safe Work Australia within 12 months to ensure it is working as intended to protect workers from exposure and to identify any unintended consequences.

South Australia is implementing the ban in line with other states and territories to protect workers from the risk of fatal lung disease.

“SafeWork SA is taking a proactive and rigorous approach to education, compliance and enforcement of the regulatory changes,” said SafeWork SA executive director, Glenn Farrell.

From 1 July 2024 until 30 June 2025, a waste levy waiver will apply to the disposal of engineered stone benchtops, slabs and panels, and silica dust.

The levy waiver aims to reduce costs for South Australian businesses disposing of existing engineered stone following the commencement of the ban.

“The EPA is continuing to work with the waste industry and SafeWork SA on the safe disposal of engineered stone,” said EPA acting director of operations, Kelly Clarke.

“The implementation of the waste levy waiver aims to encourage the safe disposal of this product for anyone who needs to dispose of it.”