‘Now is the time to act’: Pressure builds for silica products ban
Calls for a federal ban on engineered stone products are growing louder, with silica dust likened to the asbestos of the 21st century.
The composite material gained popularity as an inexpensive alternative to natural marble or granite and while not hazardous in day-to-day use, it can prove deadly for tradies working with it.
The dust it produces when cut, ground, sanded, polished or shaped lodges deep in the lungs when inhaled, causing the lethal silicosis disease.
ACTU assistant secretary Liam O’Brien told Ray Hadley while Victoria has brought in stronger safety regulations, it’s proven the material too dangerous to use for some products.
“After all of these years, and with one in four stone masons being screened as now having silicosis, this sector cannot operate safely,” he said.
“We don’t need them, they’re a fashion product, there are plenty of safe alternatives that can be used.”
It’s estimated that without action, as many as 100,000 workers will be diagnosed with the disease in Australia.
“We need the federal government … to introduce a ban on engineered stone but we also need stronger rules in all of those sectors where 600,000 workers are exposed to silica dust,” Mr O’Brien continued.
“Too long has passed already in relation to silicosis. Now is the time to act.”
You can hear more highlights from Ray Hadley below