Union call to ban engineered stone imports

Eight years working with engineered stone will likely cost Kyle Goodwin his life.

The 37-year-old former stonemason was diagnosed with silicosis in 2018, a long-term lung disease caused by inhaling large amounts of silica dust.

He was told he had between five and eight years left.

"As a person in your 30s, being told you have a terminal illness that was preventable is very, very hard to accept," Mr Goodwin told reporters on Wednesday.

"I try to maintain a positive outlook on life but I'm out of breath very easily. I have chest pains. I'm tired all the time due to a lack of oxygen."

He is backing a union push to ban imports of engineered stone by July 2024.

Used mainly for kitchen bench tops, it is a particularly potent source of the silica dust, which is also found in building and construction products.

More than 600 workers in NSW, Victoria and Queensland have silicosis, Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists president Kate Cole says.

Up to 10,000 will develop lung cancer in their lifetimes from silica dust, according to a recent Curtin University study.

The Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union is calling on the federal government to ban imports and manufacturing of engineered stone, saying lives are at stake.

If it doesn't enforce one, the union will implement its own by encouraging workers to take industrial action.

"The time for talk is over and the time for action is now," union secretary Zac Smith told reporters in Melbourne.

"This is the asbestos of the 2000s."

At least one major insurer is no longer insuring workers and companies who use the engineered stone because of the liability, Ms Cole said.

"That shows business or industry is starting to separate itself or distance itself from this risk and, unfortunately, that burden is being covered by workers," she said.

There are alternative products that may be more expensive but won't cost workers their lives, Mr Smith said.

"We're not proposing putting stonemasonry out of business.

"We're just saying this product, engineered stone, is killing workers and it shouldn't be used."

Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke will meet with state ministers early next year to discuss a ban.

Stronger health and safety protections and increased compliance checks will also be on the agenda, a department spokesperson told AAP.

Victoria and Queensland have already banned dry-cutting engineered stone, while the ACT and NSW are considering following suit.

The previous federal government last year received a report recommending the import of some or all engineered stone products should be banned from July 2024.