Silicosis issues to be with us for decades: minister
Issues surrounding potentially deadly engineered stone products will be ongoing for multiple decades, according to the workplace relations minister.
Following a meeting of workplace health and safety ministers, the national work safety watchdog is investigating a possible ban on silica products.
Products with high silica levels, most commonly seen in kitchen benchtops, have been linked to incurable lung disease and cancer.
Federal minister Tony Burke said regardless of what a ban on the products would look like, the products would leave a large impact.
"No matter what we do, this will be a problem in Australia for the next 40 or 50 years," Mr Burke told Sky News on Sunday.
"We're going to be back in the same sort of world we've been with with asbestos, so there's a whole lot of legacy issues that need to be dealt with."
Safe Work Australia will look at what sort of silica-based products would need to be banned, and if a ban was proposed, how would it be enforced.
Workplace ministers will next meet on the issue in six months or sooner if the report by Safe Work Australia is finalised before then.
An estimated 600,000 workers have been exposed to silica dust generated through mining, construction, building, and manufacturing.
Mr Burke said there was levels of complexity as to where the line would be drawn on what type of silica products would be banned.
"Everyone would always like this done yesterday. We're going to do it sensibly. We're going to work out what the proper options are," he said.
While people with engineered stone benchtops in their kitchens are safe, Mr Burke said issues would emerge if that material is moved or dealt with during renovations.