Australia is moving towards an import ban on engineered stone products linked to deadly silicosis in workers. The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) commends and fully supports this decision as the right one. It demonstrates that we can learn from the historical mistakes of asbestos management in Australia, for which workers and home renovators are still paying.

Further, AIOH expresses its appreciation towards the Work Health and Safety (WHS) ministers across the country for committing to adopting regulations, enforcement, and education around high-risk silica work. This will help prevent future harm.

The AIOH would also like to thank all the silicosis victims and groups who united with courage, compassion, science, and sensitivity in this historic moment for safety at work and in the home. (The Cancer Council of Australia, Lung Foundation Australia, Thoracic Society of Australia, Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine Inc, Australian Institute of Health & Safety, Public Health Association Australia.)

The AIOH Executive recognise and praise the influential effort and visible leadership of immediate Past President Kate Cole. Over many years, Ms Cole has demonstrated the responsibility and privilege of being an occupational hygienist charged with protecting workers.

Decisions like these don’t happen often but the move to control high-risk silica work has become essential to protecting the health and safety of workers across Australia.

So, the AIOH with its expertise in workplace exposures,  stands ready to support Safe Work Australia through the next six months to ensure a well-managed change based on risk.


Tracey Bence AIOH president