The Australian Council of Trade Unions will direct its members to refuse to allow engineered stone on buildings across the country if the federal government fails to act on the matter.

The ACTU executive on Tuesday resolved to follow a CFMEU motion, in which they vowed to “take all necessary steps” to ban the material by the middle of 2024, if a government-issued ban isn’t in place by then.

This means ACTU members won’t allow the transportation of the building material, or allow its use on building sites across Australia.

The material, normally used in kitchen benchtops, is coming under increased scrutiny due to its links with silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in fine particles of silica dust, which is produced when the engineered stone is cut into.

The ACTU says as many as one in four stonemasons working with engineered stone have been diagnosed with silicosis.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien said foreign multinational corporations that manufacture and import engineered stone have failed to take the necessary steps or warn and protect workers.

“The ACTU executive sends a clear message that governments should ban this harmful fashion product,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We welcome the decision earlier this year of ministers to introduce stronger silica rules covering all work but we must do more to ban deadly fashion product.

“We must also ensure that those that suffer from this disease are supported with improved medical treatment and compensation.”

The union is also calling for the introduction of a national health monitoring and silicosis screening for workers exposed to silica dust.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has been contacted for comment.


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By Rahul

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