Challenges for Users of Engineered Stone

The increasing awareness of silicosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust, has led to growing concerns about the use of silica-based materials like engineered stone in the construction industry. As a result, businesses involved in cutting and working with engineered stone are facing mounting insurance challenges, with some insurers starting to exclude silicosis from their liability policies.

Safe Use of Engineered Stone

Engineered stone, commonly used for kitchen benchtops, has come under scrutiny due to the potential health risks associated with silica dust inhalation. To mitigate these risks, Safe Work Australia recommends using wet methods when cutting the stone, as this can significantly reduce the chances of workers contracting silicosis. Some businesses are also considering alternative materials like timber and natural stone to avoid using silica-based products altogether.

Insurance Challenges for Businesses Working with Engineered Stone

Poor record keeping is a major issue for businesses cutting engineered stone when it comes to making and validating insurance claims related to silicosis diagnoses. Inaccurate records make it difficult for affected individuals to claim compensation from former employers, as there may be no paper trail connecting them to the work they performed.

Businesses working with engineered stone may struggle to secure effective insurance coverage, as expensive claims can prompt workers’ compensation insurers and government bodies to pursue recovery from stone suppliers and other parties.
Some insurers have started to include total exclusions for silicosis in their liability policies, particularly for stone merchants and businesses that import and manufacture benchtops.

Possible Solutions for Insurance Coverage

Claims-made policies may offer a potential solution for businesses working with engineered stone, as these policies are triggered once a claim is made. However, policyholders may be required to disclose risks like silicosis when taking out such insurance.

The Importance of Expert Guidance

Given the complex risks involved in importing, manufacturing, or cutting engineered stone, it’s crucial for businesses to consult with experts to help mitigate these risks. Working with an experienced insurance broker can ensure that businesses have the appropriate coverage to protect themselves and their employees from the potential health hazards associated with engineered stone.

Conclusion

The growing concerns about silicosis have put the spotlight on the engineered stone industry and its impact on business insurance. As businesses face increasing challenges in securing appropriate coverage, seeking expert guidance and considering alternative materials can help navigate the complexities of the industry and promote worker safety.

 

Roger Hosie from #RSMTasmania will be happy to explain what you need.
Call Now! (03) 6244 7854, or email rogerh@rsmgroup.com.au today!

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