On August 20, 2019, a ban on the uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered stone came into effect across Victoria to help protect workers from exposure to deadly silica dust.

Workplace health and safety regulations now prohibit the cutting, grinding and abrasive polishing of engineered stone with power tools, unless on-tool water suppression or dust extraction devices are in place and respiratory protection equipment is used.

If it is not reasonably practicable to use water suppression or dust extraction, local exhaust ventilation must be used.

What is considered engineered stone?

In Victoria, the amended regulations define engineered stone as a manufactured composite stone that contains resins and has a crystalline silica content of at least 80 per cent.

To find out how much crystalline silica is in a product check the safety data sheet or other information from the supplier.

What does the ban mean?

Under the amended regulations, an employer, self-employed person or person who manages or controls a workplace must ensure a power tool is not used to cut, grind or abrasively polish engineered stone, unless the tool:

  • has an integrated water delivery system that supplies a continuous feed of water (on-tool water suppression), or
  • is fitted with on-tool extraction attached to a HEPA filtered dust class H vacuum cleaner (or similar system that captures the dust generated).

If these controls are not reasonably practicable, the use of power tools must be controlled through local exhaust ventilation (LEV).

It also means that people cutting, grinding or polishing engineered stone with a power tool must be provided with respiratory protective equipment that:

  • is designed to protect the wearer from the inhalation of airborne contaminants entering the nose, mouth and lungs
  • complies with AS/NZS 1716 – Respiratory protective devices.

All controls must be properly designed, installed, used and maintained so they stay effective at reducing exposure to crystalline silica dust.

Who is responsible for making sure the controls are in place and the required equipment is supplied?

  • Employers.
  • Self-employed people.
  • People who manage or control a workplace.

Is using a handheld hose (or other handheld water delivery device) to direct water at the cutting point considered to be an ‘integrated water delivery system’?

No, an integrated water delivery system is interlocked with the power tool to ensure water is continuously delivered to the cutting point whenever the tool is in operation.

Instead of a commercially available on tool extraction system connected to a Dust Class H Vacuum can I use another extraction system?

Yes, as long as the alternative system effectively captures the dust at the source where it is generated and collects it in a manner that does not expose anyone to any dust.

Do I need to provide every person who uses a power tool to cut, grind or abrasively polish engineered stone with respiratory protective equipment (RPE) in addition to a water delivery system, on-tool extraction or local exhaust ventilation?

Yes, it is mandatory to provide RPE to anyone who is cutting, grinding or abrasively polishing engineered stone with a power tool.

You also need to provide them with training on selecting, using and maintaining the RPE.

What level of RPE do I need to provide?

RPE provided must:

  • be designed to protect the wearer from the inhalation of airborne contaminants entering the nose, mouth and lungs, and
  • comply with AS/NZS 1716 – Respiratory protective devices.

Check the product information to make sure RPE is AS/ NZS 1716 compliant. If you’re not sure, ask your supplier or contact the manufacturer.

RPE needs to have at least a P2 filter and be tested to ensure correct facial fit for each person. Where facial hair interferes with the fit of the respirator, a powered respirator that does not rely on a facial seal must be used.

RPE needs to be selected, used and maintained in accordance with AS/NZS 1715 – Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment. Employers must give employees information, instruction and training on how to use and maintain RPE.

Note: Respiratory protection is not mandated when fully automated cutting, grinding or polishing systems are used, as long as employee exposure levels are below the exposure standard. If there is any uncertainty about whether the exposure standard is, or may be exceeded, atmospheric (personal) monitoring of employees must be completed.

Who do the new regulations apply to?

Employers, those who are self-employed and people who manage or control a workplace must ensure that they are complying with the new requirements.

Employees also need to be aware of these changes – they have a legal obligation to cooperate with their employer’s efforts to comply with the ban.

Do the amendments change existing OHS Regulations requirements for crystalline silica?

The new requirements prescribe controls that must be used when a person is cutting, grinding or polishing engineered stone with a power tool. This applies in addition to existing requirements under Part 4.1 (Hazardous substances) of the OHS Regulations.

In other words, duty holders must work through both the hierarchy of controls specified in Part 4.1 of the OHS Regulations and implement the controls specified in the amended regulations.

Air monitoring

Employers also continue to have an obligation to carry out air monitoring if:

  • they are not sure if their employees are exposed to levels of silica dust that are above the exposure standard, or
  • they can’t work out if there’s a risk to employee health without air monitoring.

Employers should carry out regular air monitoring to ensure employee exposure is controlled.

Health monitoring

Employers must provide health monitoring if exposure to crystalline silica is likely to affect their employees’ health. Employers should carry out health monitoring in all stone benchtop fabrication workplaces, unless air monitoring data shows that exposure is less than 0.02 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average (TWA) airborne concentration over 8 hours.

How do I make sure that I am complying with the new requirements?

If anyone at your workplace uses power tools to cut, grind or abrasively polish engineered stone, you should review your controls to ensure you are compliant with the new requirements as specified in this document, and revise them if necessary.

What happens if I do not comply with the new requirements?

There are consequences for duty holders who don’t control risks of dry processing.

If WorkSafe inspectors observe cutting, polishing or grinding without the required controls in place, they will issue enforcement notices or take other action. Failing to control risks of dry processing may be a criminal offence.

What requirements apply for other materials that contain crystalline silica?

Employers must control the risks of their employees’ exposure to crystalline silica dust. When determining what control measures to use, employers must apply the hierarchy of control. Employers must first determine if the risk of exposure to crystalline silica dust can be eliminated.


Where the risk of exposure can’t be eliminated, it must be reduced as far as is reasonably practicable, using one or more of these controls:

  • Substitution (for example substituting high silica content products with others that have a lower silica content)
  • Isolation
  • Engineering controls

If the risk of exposure still remains, administrative controls must be used to reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable. If a risk still remains, personal protective equipment must be used.

Employers also have an obligation to undertake air monitoring and provide health monitoring to employees in certain circumstances.


*Queensland introduced similar bans in 2018. While some other states may be yet to follow, it is in the best interests of you and your workers to adopt these changes immediately if you work with engineered stone.

As always, please check with your relevant state regulator for more information.

GPT’s Melbourne Central is set to undergo its biggest transformation in almost 20 years as part of a quest to become a ‘temple of meaning’ for Melburnians and evolve into a globally-recognised place of cultural and social exchange that nurtures and inspires its users.

As of 2021, the centre will reinvent itself with the addition of an expansive open-air space offering a 2,000m2 public oasis atop the city, a series of unexpected experiential spaces, a surprising new large-scale art installation, exciting hawker stalls and much more.

An experiential space, it will be a haven for emerging retail and cultural concepts, a place for events, education and learning.

Coupled with the centre’s recently announced new 10-storey commercial office tower Frame, as well as its newly opened 1,800 square metre boutique food and drink retail hub ELLA, it marks the largest transformation of the site since its 2001 redevelopment following the departure of Japanese department store Daimaru.

And in a nod to the past, Melbourne Central’s owner The GPT Group has brought back the original architects, ARM Architecture, responsible for the dramatic makeover that reimagined it as the distinct collection of precincts and laneways it is now known for.

Its full designs will be unveiled in the coming months but the new look will involve the addition of two new retail levels that transition to the new timber office tower’s skylobby and surrounding rooftop.

Existing Drewery Place will be reactivated, becoming an additional entry for the commercial tower and featuring a small cafe; while the rooftop will face to the north, commanding plenty of light and views of the iconic Melbourne Central cone.

ARM Architecture Principal Ian McDougall said Melbourne Central was the first CBD site to explore such dramatically transformative changes to its offer in order to maximise its relevance.

“Melbourne Central is really reconceiving the notion of what retail is and exploring what else it can be and seeing its own rooftop as a valuable site for more than just financial exchange,” he said.


Melbourne Central’s redevelopment plans are currently being considered by Melbourne City Council for approval, with construction projected to commence in early 2020 with minimal impacts to trading.


Source: Shopping Centre News

In a significant milestone, the Australian Building and Construction Commission has exceeded $1 million in recovered wages for almost 1400 workers.

The ABCC has been responsible for ensuring building and construction workers are paid correctly since 2 December 2016 and continues to build its work in this area.

The ABCC has so far audited over 350 employers to ensure they are paying their workers correctly and has undertaken over 100 investigations into alleged underpayments.

Money recovered by the ABCC for workers includes:

 Over $115,000 back paid to seven Queensland bricklayers after their employer failed to comply with their enterprise agreement

 Over $57,000 back paid to five carpentry apprentices in NSW after their employer failed to pay the modern award

 $54,000 recovered for 10 formwork workers in NSW after their company failed to comply with its enterprise agreement

 $23,500 back paid to 67 labour hire workers in WA after their employer misclassified them under the modern award and did not pay the correct rates for overtime work

 $10,223 back paid to 10 scaffolding workers in NT after it was found their employer failed to pay overtime and their fares and travel allowance

 The ABCC has also commenced legal action against an employer in Victoria who is alleged to have failed to pay a labourer $22,000 and threatened to sack the worker when he asked about his pay.

ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said these results were a timely reminder for employers to make sure they are paying their workers correctly.

“The $1 million milestone achieved this week demonstrates our commitment to ensuring we are fulfilling our statutory mandate as a full service regulator,” Mr McBurney said.

“Some of the problems we commonly identify include non-payment of allowances, failure to pay minimum wage rates, failure to keep proper records and confusion about the correct industrial instrument.

“We stand ready to assist any employer who is unsure of the legal obligations or any worker who believes they have not been paid what they are owed.”

Anyone with concerns about wages and entitlements in the building and construction industry can call our hotline on 1800 003 338 or complete our anonymous reporting form at www.abcc.gov.au/anonymous-reporting-form.

The Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane has found Forest Meiers Construction liable to pay $200,000 in compensation for taking adverse action and discriminating against a tiling subcontractor because they did not have an enterprise agreement with the CFMMEU.

The Court found that Forest Meiers and its Construction Manager William Munro, contravened the Fair Work Act by discriminating against the subcontractor.

On 24 February 2014, the tiling company submitted a quote to Forest Meiers for a project in Hamilton, with the tiling company becoming the preferred bidder on the project.

When Forest Meiers asked if the tiling company had an enterprise agreement with the CFMMEU, the company’s managing director said he already had a (non-union) enterprise agreement registered with the Fair Work Commission but was happy to pay the union rates for the purposes of the project.

The tiling company’s managing director then agreed to a Forest Meiers proposal to register a new company so it could sign up to a CFMMEU enterprise agreement.

During a meeting on 18 July 2014, Mr Munro told the tiling company’s managing director.

“The Union contacted me at around 5:00 yesterday. They threatened action on the site if we signed you up.”

Judge Jarrett found that notwithstanding the possibility of union disruption, Forest Meiers had a choice to make:

“I accept that Mr Munro believed that the CFMEU or the BLF would cause disruption and delay which in turn would cause financial disadvantage and reputational issues for Forest Meiers.”

“They were faced with the prospect of industrial action if they engaged C&K and if they did not, the next closest tenderer who had an EBA with the CFMEU was $300,000 more expensive than C&K.”

“I find, that the fact that C&K did not have an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU was a substantive and operative reason for Mr Munro’s decision not to accept C&K’s tender for the Tiling Works.”

“… Forest Meiers had a choice to make. Mr Munro… knew that if the CFMEU was applying pressure not to engage C&K because it had no agreement with that company, that pressure was illegitimate… Notwithstanding that, Mr Munro made a deliberate choice not to award the Tiling Works contract to C&K.”

The matter remains before the courts.



While most of us will be making plans for Friday night, some Australians will be wondering where they’ll sleep. More than 116,000 people experience homelessness every night, and 32% are children.

That’s not a reality ASOFIA CEO Gerard Ryan is comfortable with and that’s why on Thursday 20 June, Gerard will spend the longest and coldest night of the year sleeping on the concrete at White Bay Cruise Terminal in Sydney as part of the 2019 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

This year Gerard is hoping to raise at least $15,000. Over the past 3 years with tremendous support from the industry along many of his friends, Gerard has been able to raise over $50,000 for this very worthy cause. Last year ASOFIA formed a team and together they raised over $45,000 in just one year.

All monies raised will go towards crisis accommodation options for families and individuals at risk of homelessness, case management and counselling, educational and living skills courses, health services and home packages for those people Vinnies helps transition to housing.

To reach Gerard’s fundraising goal, he needs your help. Donations are tax-deductible and can be processed online.

Having a safe place to call home should be the right of every Australian.

Help Gerard fight 👊🏽homelessness by donating at ➡️