What It Means to Be a Registered Builder in Victoria
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At D3 Built, we believe that no one should have to trade their health and well-being for their livelihood. With this principle guiding us, we've made a pivotal decision: to ban the use of engineered stone across all our operations.
This decision was spurred by an enlightening report from Safe Work Australia, an independent government agency renowned for its expertise in workplace safety. Funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, Safe Work Australia diligently monitors and evaluates workplace health and safety laws across the nation.
The verdict in their report was clear-cut—the risk posed by engineered stone is "unacceptable." In light of this, we're taking proactive measures to safeguard our workers and those in related industries, even before any legislative ban comes into effect.
The peril lies in crystalline silica, a compound found in materials such as sand, stone, concrete, and mortar. This compound is also used in manufacturing various products, including engineered stone, bricks, tiles, and some plastics. The amount of crystalline silica varies depending on the material, but alarmingly, reconstituted stone can contain up to 95% crystalline silica. When these materials are cut, crushed, drilled, polished, sawed, or ground, they generate dust particles small enough to lodge deeply in the lungs, leading to serious illnesses, including silicosis.
Workers in stonemasonry, construction, and extractive industries are often exposed to crystalline silica dust. However, benchtop fabrication workers face the highest risks as they regularly handle reconstituted stone.
In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in cases of silicosis and other silica-related diseases among Australian workers. This worrying trend is primarily driven by the unique dangers engineered stone dust poses.
Engineered stone, unlike its natural counterpart, has a different composition and processing method that leads to higher exposure levels over time. Compounding the issue is the inadequate compliance with model work health and safety (WHS) laws in the industry, largely due to a lack of understanding about the specific risks, duties, rights, and responsibilities tied to engineered stone processing.
The dust from engineered stone contains high levels of respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which is linked to an elevated risk of silicosis. Even more concerning, the symptoms of silicosis among engineered stone workers are typically more severe compared to other sources. Additionally, evidence suggests that other components of engineered stone could amplify the toxic effects, making it impossible to determine a safe level for crystalline silica content.
In light of these findings, Safe Work Australia recommended that WHS ministers ban all engineered stone use and introduce a licensing scheme for work previously installed. We at D3 Built fully endorse this recommendation. We have informed our suppliers and delivery partners of this decision and are working closely with them to find the best alternatives.
Our workforce's health and safety have always been our top priority. We believe in cultivating a work environment where our employees can flourish without fear of harm. While we recognize the aesthetic appeal of engineered stone, we cannot turn a blind eye to the unacceptable risks it carries.
At D3 Built, our commitment isn't just about laying bricks—it's about building a safer future, one project at a time.