FEBRUARY 28, 2023 - The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) has welcomed the news that state and federal governments will work to ban engineered stone.
Silicosis is entirely preventable through safe workplace practises – but many employers would rather put their workers in harm's way than keep them safe if it means their profits go down.
Over half a million Australian workers are currently exposed to silica dust across tunnelling, construction, mining and quarrying, and manufacturing jobs. More than 10,000 workers are predicted to be diagnosed with it as the result of their current exposure to the dust at work.
AMWU National Secretary Steve Murphy said:
"Silica dust is the asbestos of the 21st Century: a deadly workplace substance that has been allowed to hurt and kill thousands of workers for the sake of corporate greed.
"Recently we had a series of serious incidents in Victoria that affected our members in the lift industry. Their employer was making them drill through concrete without supplying proper personal protective equipment (PPE). The workplace's health and safety representative (HSR) was forced to issue the employer with cease-work notices, shutting work down on construction sites across Victoria until workers' safety could be assured. That decision was subsequently supported by WorkSafe Victoria.
"The sooner federal and state governments ban engineered stone and protect workers from silica dust, the better."