Victoria introduces national-first licensing for engineered stone industry operators

Victoria introduces national-first licensing for engineered stone industry operators

Victoria is leading the nation in the fight against silica exposure for workers, today announcing that it is introducing a licensing scheme for businesses working with engineered stone and silica products.

Any employers who work with engineered stone will, under the new legislation, have to prove their compliance with safety standards and obtain a license, which is aimed at reducing the risks to workers. 

Employers will also be required to provide prospective applicants with the health risks linked to silica dust exposure and provide the appropriate training to control those risks. 

Under the new legislation, it will also make eight offences related to silica eligible for infringements, enforceable by the safety regulator, which aims to deter employers from not taking their health and safety regulations seriously.

The changes are part of the new Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2021, which means that the state-wide ban on the uncontrolled processing of engineered stone products will be permanent.

The Andrews Government is giving employers or self-employed workers until November next year to obtain a license. The Government has also warned that failure to obtain the appropriate license can be used in criminal proceedings against the PCBUs or employers. 

Four people have died in Victoria this year alone from silicosis, and more than 1300 people have received free health screenings since 2019 in the state for silica exposure-related health concerns. 

Victorian Minister for Workplace Safety, Ingrid Stitt, said that “Silicosis has already cost too many workers their health and, in some cases their lives – that’s why we’ve banned dry cutting and are rolling out even greater protections for workers.”

“Licensing the use of engineered stone will ensure people working with these products have the necessary safety protections so that tradies aren’t exposed to deadly silica dust.”

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