Ban on dry-cutting engineered stone

By James Arbuthnott

Stonemasons must cease dry-cutting engineered stone to stop exposure to deadly silica dust. 

Construction, mining and quarrying workers will use on-tool water suppression or dust extraction devices and wear respiratory protection when cutting, grinding and polishing engineered stone including artificial benchtops, which contain a high concentration of silica. 

The regulations enforced by the Victorian Government aim to reduce the likeliness of developing silicosis, which has killed 15 workers since 1985.

Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy says the ban will "protect tradies from this silent killer" to ensure they "go home safe to their families every day".

“Our tough new regulations are now in effect and I encourage all stonemasons who have been exposed to silica dust to register for a free health assessment as soon as possible,” she said.

WorkSafe received 55 claims for silica-related conditions in the 2018-19 financial year.

Free health screenings for 1400 Victorian stonemasons will be offered and education seminars available across the state.

Workers or dependents of workers with silicosis are entitled to compensation without having to prove that work contributed to the disease.