"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Engineered stone is now banned. But how protected are the alternatives?

Engineered stone from today Is prohibited To protect employees in Australia from inhaling deadly silica dust, which has long been linked to diseases equivalent to lung cancer and silicosis.

The ban on the manufacture, supply, processing and installation of engineered stone follows years of campaigning by unions, public health professionals and doctors to guard the health of employees who cut and install engineered stone. Do, this kind is used for kitchen bench tops.

Therefore, many owners will now search for alternatives when constructing and renovating their homes.

But how protected are these alternatives? Here are some options and what they mean for the health of the tradesmen who cut and install these products.

Remind me, how did we end the ban?

Silicosis just isn't a brand new occupational lung disease. For example, it has been reported since precedent days about stoners and miners respiration in silica dust. In Australia, we've seen this in construction and demolition employees for many years.

However, until the last ten years, the variety of cases in Australia and internationally was low. This was until the introduction of engineered stone, particularly a robust source of silica dust. Some contain engineered stone. 90% or more Silica

It led to 1 Unprecedented re-emergence of disease. It is estimated that one in 4 engineered stone employees have already developed silicosis because of this of their exposure. Many people will proceed to be affected in the long run.

In 2019, the Australian government a Task Force To address the growing problem of silica dust exposure. This triggered a series of events that resulted within the advice of SafeWork Australia in October 2023. I On engineered stone, the State and Territory Health and Safety Ministers work.
adopted In December 2023.

The ban that starts today. Prohibits Manufacture, supply, processing and installation of all engineered stone containing greater than 1% silica.

There are some limited circumstances where working with engineered stone is permitted (for instance, repairing or removing pre-installed engineered stone). However, this might be strictly controlled and controlled.

What are my options now?

There are many alternatives to engineered stone when you are renovating your kitchen. While some do contain silica, the health risks to tradesmen working with them are far lower than what we've seen with engineered stone.

Here are some alternatives:

  • wood A classic benchtop option and is available in a wide range of colours. Wooden bench tops require some maintenance equivalent to sanding and sealing. While wood doesn't contain silica, cutting wood produces wood dust. Over exposure This dust causes nasal cavity cancer, lung diseases in addition to skin diseases like allergic dermatitis.

  • Stainless steel Benchtops are also silica-free. They are highly durable and immune to heat, stains and bacteria. there are some Harmful to health Associated with chrome steel construction, primarily as a consequence of inhalation of fumes from welding and airborne metals equivalent to chromium, nickel and manganese. However, there are a lot of known control measures that could be used to cut back these risks.

  • Porcelain Ceramic is a kind of ceramic that's fired at very high temperatures and is a relative newcomer to the kitchen benchtop market. These bench tops are low maintenance and highly durable. They are immune to scratches, heat, stains and light-weight. Some Precautions This is required because these benchtops still contain small amounts of silica (normally About 15 percent), but at a much lower level than in engineered stone

  • Concrete Benchtops could be customized to suit many various tastes and are heat resistant. Again, Precautions are required When working with concrete, as in about 30% Silica, nevertheless, could be very low in comparison with the 90% or more present in engineered stone.

  • Natural stone, equivalent to marble or granite, is one other classic benchtop option. Most are heat resistant and sturdy. Marble consists of a less amount (lower than 5%) more silica than granite (25-60%). But each are safer options for employees than engineered stone.

  • Zero silica engineered stone There is an updated introduction. These guarantee the identical design and sturdiness as their (now banned) predecessors. Instead of silica, these products often contain alternative raw materials equivalent to recycled glass mixed with resins and pigments. We are yet to see how protected these are in comparison with alternative stones.

There are obviously pros and cons to any benchtop alternative. Each of those comes with its own risks for the employees who manufacture and install them. However, the risks of those alternatives are likely lower than those we've seen with engineered stone. In most cases, these risks are known, well managed and well controlled unlike engineered stone.

It's also vital to keep in mind that these products, including engineered stone, pose no risk to homeowners once installed.

Timber is a classic benchtop option and is available in a wide range of colours.
Nikki Nagy/Pixels

What about other exhibitions?

While the ban is an incredible step forward and a win for public health, engineered stone is simply a part of the issue. We still see. Significant silica exposure In other industries including construction, mining and tunneling.

Strong regulation All materials containing silica dust might be replaced in September this 12 months. These shall include the requirement for all processing of silica-containing materials where practicable to be controlled using water, dust extraction or ventilation. Anyone who works with silica-containing products in a way that is taken into account high risk can even must receive training and undergo regular health checks.

We hope that the momentum seen today in banning this dangerous product continues, and improves health and safety conditions for all employees exposed to this deadly dust.