Engineered Stone Ban in Queensland: Builders Seek Clarity Amidst Economic Challenges

OpEd – Paul Bidwell, (CEO, Master Builders Queensland)

On 6 May, the Queensland Government confirmed engineered stone will be banned across the state from 1 July this year.

This follows the agreement by the nation’s Work Health and Safety Ministers to prohibit the use, supply, and manufacture of engineered stone benchtops, panels and slabs containing crystalline silica across the nation. Several other products will be excluded from the prohibitions.

The safety of our building and construction workers is of course, paramount – and without compromising that safety, but against the backdrop of the dual crises of cost of living and housing shortages, there are other considerations.

Master Builders had written to Minister Grace Grace twice after the national ban was announced, seeking clarity on whether a transition period would apply for contracts entered into before 13 December, as Work Health Safety Queensland had previously flagged.

The state government has now belatedly confirmed there will be no transition period.

We acknowledge the decision not to adopt a transition period was due to the government’s view that there was an unacceptable risk to workers’ safety.

However, many small businesses had relied on these commitments. During what is already a tough time in economic terms, it remains to be seen how many of them are caught short and suffer a financial impact.

We urge government to make the appropriate regulatory changes as quickly as possible, to ensure builders with contracts on foot can obtain agreement with their clients on a variation, allowing them to find alternative products, and complete their works as seamlessly as they can.

Paul Bidwell
Master Builders Queensland
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