Engineered stone provider fined $375,000 after employee was exposed to silica dust

Edstein Creative Pty Ltd, a major supplier of engineered stone, was ordered to pay a hefty fine of $375,000 for exposing an employee to considerable illness risk over a period of nearly seven years due to failure in taking the necessary precautions to minimise exposure to airborne respirable crystalline silica. The company acknowledged its culpability in December 2023. They received criticism for their lack of appropriate measures to eliminate the risk posed by respirable crystalline silica while performing tasks involved with the engineered stone products installation, including cutting, grinding, drilling and polishing procedures.

This landmark case initiated by SafeWork NSW in 2021 represents the first legal proceedings in NSW related to silica dust exposure under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011(NSW) (The Act), where the accused party failed to abide by their obligation under section 19(1) of The Act as determined by the NSW District Court.

The escalating cases of fatal silicosis over the past decade prompted NSW, along with fellow states, territories and the Commonwealth, to unanimously agree on an engineered stone ban effective from July 1. Indeed, NSW and other states are at the forefront internationally in implementing this measure. SafeWork NSW has successfully conducted two prosecutions concerning crystalline silica dust exposure in workplaces and is actively investigating several matters before the District Court.

In 2023, the prevalence of Silicosis, a lung condition triggered by inhaling small silica dust particles, has seen an alarming rise, particularly in the engineered stone industry.

SafeWork NSW’s inspectors persistently perform compliance inspections within this industry, involving site visits and issuing penalties to those operators found non-compliant.

For comprehensive information on SafeWork’s compliance initiative concerning silica, we invite you to visit the SafeWork website.

Trent Curtin, SafeWork NSW Head, has articulated that “the forthcoming ban on engineered stone marks a significant step forward in combating silicosis, ensuring a safer working environment for workers statewide. Meanwhile, any endangerment of workers lives due to exposure to deadly crystalline silica dust will face strict action from SafeWork inspectors. The recent prosecutions reflect SafeWork’s unwavering commitment to holding employers accountable if they fail to uphold their safety responsibilities.”

The emphasis and priority placed on worker’s health and safety underscore the importance of robust work safety products such as Bluesafe SWMS and the Bluesafe WHS Management System. Such systems and policies not only bolster the enforcement of regulations but also contribute significantly to creating safe and healthy work environments.

Original article link:$375,000-after-employee-was-exposed-to-silica-dust

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