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Industrial Relations, Legal

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

SafeWork NSW 2 mins read
 
 

An engineered stone provider has been fined $375,000 after it exposed a worker to a risk of serious illness over a six-year and 10 month period where reasonably practical steps were not taken to minimise exposure to airborne respirable crystalline silica.  

Edstein Creative Pty Ltd pled guilty to the charge in December 2023.  Edstein Creative failed to take adequate actions to minimise the risk of exposure to airborne respirable crystalline silica while undertaking tasks associated with the installation of engineered stone products, including cutting, grinding, drilling and polishing. 

SafeWork NSW commenced these proceedings in 2021. These were the first proceedings in NSW relating to silica dust exposure under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011(NSW) (the Act) for failing to comply with their duty under section 19(1) of the Act in the NSW District Court. 

The growth in deadly silicosis over the past decade is the reason why NSW along with the other states and territories and the Commonwealth agreed unanimously  to ban engineered stone from July 1. 

The growth in deadly silicosis over the past decade is the reason why NSW and other states are leading the world with a ban on engineered stone from July 1. 

SafeWork NSW has also recently completed two successful prosecutions in relation to crystalline silica dust exposure in the workplace, as well as having a number of matters before the District Court and under active investigation. In 2023: 

  • Number One Stone Marble and Granite Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $25,000 for a breach of section 33 of the Act for failing to comply with their duty under section 19(1) of the Act.

  • N Moit and Sons (NSW) Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $75,000 for a breach of section 33 of the Act for failing to comply with their duty under section 19(1) of the Act.

Silicosis, which is caused by breathing in small particles of silica dust, has devasting effects on the lungs and is becoming increasingly prevalent in the engineered stone industry. 

Inspectors from SafeWork NSW are continuing to undertake compliance inspections in the engineered stone industry, including site visits and issuing penalties to any non-compliant operators. 

For more information on SafeWork’s silica compliance work, please visit the SafeWork website. 

Quotes to be attributed to Head of SafeWork Trent Curtin:  

“The upcoming ban on engineered stone is a significant move in the fight against silicosis and will ensure workers across the state are much safer at work.    

"In the meantime, SafeWork Inspectors will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to workers lives being endangered through exposure to deadly crystalline silica dust. 

“These recent prosecutions demonstrate SafeWork’s commitment to ensuring that employers who do not take safety seriously will face consequences. 

MEDIA: media@customerservice.nsw.gov.au | 0438 108 797 

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