The NSW Legislative Council has called on the NSW government to immediately consider the viability and impact of banning manufactured stone products.
The motion (attached) moved by Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge also called on the government to immediately institute a state-wide ban on dry cutting of manufactured stone products in NSW and advise workers in the industry that any exposure to dust form the product can be lethal.
The motion passed the upper house with the support of the Government and the Opposition.
NSW Parliament‘s Law and Justice Committee recently heard evidence that there is no safe exposure level to silica dust created by cutting manufactured stone.
Manufactured stone was first used in Australia in 2001. It is an imported building product from silica aggregate and resin and is most often used in kitchen bench tops and commercial and retailed finishes.
Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge said:
“We should not be letting workers die from a preventable disease because there is a market for slightly cheaper shiny bench-tops
“This is a step in the right direction towards an inevitable ban.
“Tonight NSW became the first Parliament anywhere to raise the prospect of banning this product. This is a very significant step.
“The NSW Parliament heard evidence from Dr Chris Colquhoun the Chief Medical Officer of Icare, that “any time you are cutting manufactured stone you have to make the assumption that if you breathe the stuff in you are going to die”.
“Dr Graeme Edwards from The Royal Australasian College of Physicians gave evidence that silicosis is worse than asbestos, we heard evidence from a Doctor whose youngest patient with a fatal silicosis diagnosis was just 23.
“Silicosis is killing workers with young families, striking down people whose entire lives should be ahead of them.
“According to Icare, there were 40 cases of silicosis reported in NSW in 2018-19, up from 8 the previous financial year and this figure almost certainly underestimates the number of cases. In the same year over 160 new cases were reported in Queensland.
“There are thousands of workers in the manufactured stone industry in NSW, all of who are exposed to silica dust, often at appalling high levels.
“Every day we delay bringing in this ban more people are being exposed to this lethal dust and more lives will inevitably be lost,” Mr Shoebridge said.