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Engineered Stone Licence Compliance Guide

24/06/2022by minal.metkari0Read: 5 minutes
Engineered Stone Licence Compliance Guide

Engineered Stone Licence is a licence offered to businesses complying with all requirements and safety measures to employ engineered stone procedures at their workplaces in Australia. It aims to safeguard workers’ health from the dangers of crystalline silica dust, which is a result of an engineered stone process.

An engineered stone is known as a reconstituted, artificial, or manufactured stone with a crystalline silica content of 80 per cent or higher. An engineered stone process is a work procedure involving the use of engineered stone that leads to the generation of fine crystalline silica dust. The various processes are grinding, cutting, and abrasive engineered stone polishing. Wage labour is employed by organisations to perform this manual labour.

Need for Engineered Stone License

An engineered stone undergoes processes like grinding, cutting, abrasive polishing, and drilling, releasing vast amounts of dangerous crystalline silica dust, severely affecting the workers handling it. Exposure to uncontrolled crystalline silica can result in silicosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, kidney damage and scleroderma. Silicosis is an incurable, irreversible and progressive disease of the lungs.

WorkSafe’s statics shows that engineered stone employing companies have seen a massive increase in Silicosis and silica-related illnesses, resulting in about 70 per cent of silica-related claims. The state regulatory body has accepted 123 silica-related disease claims since 1 January 2019, more than the 28 claims received in 2018.

Who needs an Engineered Stone License?

Industries like the Stonemason industry that involve engineered stone cutting, drilling, grinding, and abrasive polishing, require the Engineered Stone License.

Individuals or businesses willing to purchase engineered stone from its manufacturers or suppliers will also require the license. It can be for your company or a licensed enterprise.

You will also need a licence to buy engineered stone from a supplier or manufacturer if you intend to undertake an engineered stone process. It applies to purchases for your business or on behalf of a licenced company.

Engineered Stone Licence Scheme

An Engineered Stone License Scheme aims to keep a check on businesses using engineered stone and to protect workers from the dangers of silica dust exposure. It is the first initiative that obligates the supply of the engineered stone to only businesses holding a valid license and complying with the relevant safety measures as per ESCP (Engineered Stone Control Plan).

Under the Victorian Government, WorkSafe issues the Engineered stone licence according to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations 2017 – Part 6.1. Employers or individual employees must comply with the requirements to get a licence. They need to provide information on the safety methods applied to safeguard workers’ health from Occupational Hygiene diseases like Silicosis. WorkSafe Australia’s officials will review the safety procedures practised by the enterprise before granting them a licence.

The license holders’ workplace and the location of the engineered stone process installation can be different.

Applications for an Engineered Stone Licence commenced on 15 November 2021. The license is valid for five years.

Engineered Stone Control Plan (ESCP)

An Engineered stone control plan (ESCP) records the various risks and health hazards affecting workers performing engineered stone jobs that involve the harmful silica dust generation. The document also includes the control measures essential to overcome these hazards. The ESCP must also include a detailed explanation of the procedure and effectiveness of the control measures to overcome the risk and hazards.

According to the Engineered stone control plan (ESCP), the Engineered Stone License is not required before 15 November 2022. But employers are requested not to undertake any engineered stoned-involved work until they prepare an ESCP in compliance with OHS Regulations. It is also applicable to self-employed individuals.

Both need to assure the conduction of the engineered stone-related work while following the rules and regulations mentioned in the ESCP.

In cases where the risk control measures do not help mitigate the risks, the employers can revise the ESCP. Also, reviewing ESCP is an obligation in case of an engineering stoned-related accident.

ESCP Mandatory Essentials

Below are the ESCP mandatory essentials for enterprises to include:

  • Identification of the type of engineered stone procedure implied at an organisation.
  • Mention the health risks and hazards related to that job.
  • Explanation of the steps taken for risk control.
  • Description of the control measures implemented.
  • Simple, understandable language used to suit workers using it as an instruction manual.

As per the OHS Regulations (law), engineered processes mandate the use of specific control measures. Both employers and self-employed people must give detailed information on implementing these steps in the ESCP. They can refer to the Stonemasons: Preventing crystalline silica exposure and Engineered stone process checklist for reference.

Employers must talk to their employees about the health hazards that directly affect them, and this exchange of information can alarm and guide workers.

The consultation process shall involve a health representative (HSR) representing the employees in specific cases.

Safety mandates

Specific safety mandates employers or self-employed individuals must adhere to carry out an engineered stone process during the transition period as per the law.

  1. To prepare an ESCP
  2. To comply with the procedures to control engineered stone risks, as included in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 – Part 4.5, Division 3, Subdivision 3.
  3. To comply with existing tasks mentioned under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 – Part 4.1.

Managing Exposure to Crystalline Silica: Engineered Stone Compliance Code

Managing Exposure to Crystalline Silica: Engineered Stone Compliance Code is a WorkSafe Victoria code in association with some key stakeholders. The key aim of this proposed code is to provide a practical compliance guide to the duty holders on complying with their roles as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations). The essential duties are to handle the health and safety risks of exposure to airborne crystalline silica dust generated by an engineered stone process.

The submissions for this code are closed now as the last day was 14 June 2022.

New Engineered Stone Licensing requirements

WorkSafe Australia has released the below essential Engineered Stone Licensing requirements:

  • An organisation employs a hazard control plan for their workplace’s engineered stone processes.
  • Provide employees, manual labourers or wage labourers with the necessary information, instruction, and training program details. The data must include the engineered stone work’s risks caused and the control measures practised by an organisation.
  • Details of the respiratory protection equipment like P2 masks, air purifiers, etc.
  • Operational data on the number of workers exposed to engineered stone processes and the location.
  • Manufacturers and suppliers’ contact information that are in association or can be used to buy engineered stone in the future.
  • Business details and their extract from ASIC, trust, and partners.
  • Identity proof.

Training and Guidance

· Employers must provide training, safety instructions, and engineered stone-related information to workers (old and new) handling engineered stone processes and job applicants.

·They must also ask the protective equipment manufacturers to guide employees on the correct use, maintenance, and storage.

· Information on health risks associated with crystalline silica exposure, the importance, and implementation of the control measures per silica regulations.

· Employers failing to give the necessary training and guidance can attract breaches of duties per the OHS Act and Regulations.

Important Points to Remember

  • Employers, organisations, manufacturers, suppliers, and individuals have a transition period to prepare a licence application until 14 November 2022.
  • All new licence applications submitted by 14 November 2022 will be free.
  • All licences applied before 15 November 2022 will have 15 November as their issue date and will last for five years.
  • Fulfilment of all licence requirements is a must for a hassle-free grant. A WorkSafe inspector might visit your workplace to verify the essentials’ fulfilment.
  • Employers employing engineered stone processes without a licence will be penalised after 15 November 2022.

Anitech’s Occupational Hygienists can assist you with the Engineered Stone License requirements and other Occupational Hygiene services.

To book an occupational hygiene consultation, call us on 1300 802 163 or e-mail at – info@anitechgroup.com.

minal.metkari

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