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To: Safe Work Australia

Implement a safe silica standard!

What a campaign!

In 2018, workers who had suffered from silica exposure started lobbying for safer practices in the industry. It was a slow, step by step process, but the changes have been massive.

In 2019 Victorian Trades Hall Council lodged a submission, supported by this petition, to review the working standards around engineered stone. We initially won a reduction in the allowable concentration of silica in workplaces.

Since then, as we learned more about the deadly effect of engineered stone cutting, unions including the CFMEU called for a BAN on the production, importation and use of engineered stone.

In 2023, big players like Bunnings and IKEA agreed to bring an end to the use of deadly engineered stone in Australia

Finally, on 13 December 2023, WHS ministers representing the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed to Safe Work Australia’s recommendation to prohibit the use of engineered stone to protect thousands of workers from respirable crystalline silica (silica dust).

Implement a safe silica standard now!

Hundreds of workers across the country are being exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust every day. I’m Greg, and my exposure to silica dust means I have developed scleroderma, an irreversible and chronic condition. I'm calling on Safe Work Australia to create a safer silica exposure standard for Australian workers.

Why is this important?

Silica dust is present in many common building materials. Gravel, sand and newly developed compressed stone materials like caesarstone all contain silica. It’s all around us.

Along with scleroderma, exposure to silica has been linked to other diseases, including, autoimmune diseases, silicosis, chronic renal disease and even lung cancer.

When a person inhales fine silica dust after it’s been cut or ground, it makes its way into your lungs, scarring and damaging them irreversibly. The most terrifying part of these diseases is the disease can lay dormant in your lungs, showing no signs of ill health, until years after exposure.

Getting exposed to silica in such high concentrations changed my life. Working with sand between 1973 and 2002 meant that I have now been diagnosed with scleroderma. My life will never be the same.

And I’m not alone, recently 22 silicosis claims were logged with WorkCover in Queensland, including for six people who were diagnosed as terminally ill.

In the past year in Victoria, there have been 13 silicosis claims by stonemasons, but the reality could be even worse, with many not even being aware they have been exposed to silica dust, with some symptoms not showing until years after the initial exposure.

I wouldn’t have developed this illness, had my workplace taken safety seriously. Switching out silica for an alternative material, or using proper extraction techniques and being provided with appropriate PPE if there was still exposure could have stopped me from developing scleroderma.

We’re demanding better exposure standards that actually protect people like me, who work with this dangerous material day in and day out.

Sign the petition to help get our exposure standard in line with the rest of the world. Demand our exposure standard be upgraded to 0.025mg/m³, matching America’s exposure standard, and keeping up to date with the state of knowledge.



2024-01-22 13:01:20 +1100

Petition is successful with 10,118 signatures

2019-03-25 11:03:48 +1100

5,000 signatures reached

2019-01-04 16:08:40 +1100

25 signatures reached

2019-01-03 14:59:22 +1100

10 signatures reached