Victorians urged to seek engineered stone alternatives

New Regulations Implemented by Victorian Authorities

Beginning 1st July, Victorian employers are decisively prohibited from being involved in tasks that encompass the manufacture, sourcing, processing, or fitting of engineered stone benchtops, as well as other panels and slabs. The driving force behind this move is to ensure workplace health and safety, echoing the importance of tools like WHS management systems, SWMS, and clear safety policies, such as the Bluesafe SWMS.

Given the currently high-risk situations involving Victorian labourers, a transitional period will not be availed. This insists that after the ban has taken effect, products composed of engineered stone would no longer be allowed for installation within Victorian properties – irrespective of whether these contracts were signed prior to the 1st of July.

Apologies are out of the question when it comes to taking steps to guard workers against deadly silicosis, according to WorkSafe’s Health and Safety Executive Director, Narelle Beer. “To prevent exposure to fatal crystalline silica dust, immediate conversations about substitute products need to begin between builders and clients, due to the dire risks faced by our workforce,” Dr Beer commented.

The ban does not affect the existing installations of engineered stone products placed prior to July 1 since they do not present an ongoing work safety hazard. To ensure the safe conduct of work on these already installed fittings, Victoria’s prohibition offers an exclusive exception for the removal, amendment or repair of previously set up engineered stone objects under a tightly controlled environment complemented by the Bluesafe WHS Management System.

Victoria’s Building Authority Commissioner and CEO, Anna Cronin stated that the VBA was entirely supportive of ensuring worker safety. “Demolition crews and other tradespeople who interact with the already-installed items should place their top priority on the fulfilment of obligations,” Ms Cronin said. “Mainly, meeting current regulations that mitigate health risks related to crystalline silica dust in order to protect their staff and clientele.”

In spite of any exceptions to the national prohibition granted by other jurisdictions under unusual circumstances, Victoria will endure to use its existing work safety exemption framework. This guarantees that engineered stone products would only be contemplated for usage if they can display the same level of health and safety as their alternatives.

It’s crucial to remember that duty holders will still have to adhere to existing Victoria regulations, which mandates that all businesses engaged with engineered stone must be licensed till the ban comes into effect on July 1st.

For additional information relating to building contracts and engineered stone, contact Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Phone: 0438 786 968
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