NSW Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis has confirmed the government will consider a statewide ban on a cancer-causing engineered stone if no consensus is reached on a national level at an upcoming meeting.

This comes as a recent damning Safe Work Australia report recommended a ban of the material, which is commonly used in kitchen benchtops and releases toxic silica dust. When inhaled by workers, it can cause kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and an irreversible scarring condition called silicosis.

Speaking at budget estimates on Wednesday, Ms Cotsis said she would imminently attend a meeting with other state and territory governments and federal Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke and advocate a united national ban on engineered stone.

“We will have a meeting very soon … and we’re (NSW) putting forward our position,” she said.

“I can certainly advise that there is a very strong mood for change.”

Asked by Legalise Cannabis MP Jeremy Buckingham, a former stonemason, whether the NSW government would “consider a ban on engineered stone if there’s not a nationally agreed consensus after the next meeting”, she said: “Yes.”

Mr Buckingham also shared he was due to receive his CT scan results on Thursday that would confirm whether he was suffering from silicosis.

However, Greens MP Abigail Boyd questioned why NSW had to wait for the federal government. Technically, the state government could pass legislation to enable the ban in the November sitting week this year.

“You have that power to do that this year. You have the numbers in parliament. Why wouldn’t you ban that this year?” Ms Boyd said.

Ms Cotsis also gave an impassioned plea to implement policies to improve screening of workers exposed to silica dust and the removal of legacy installed engineered stone.

“We need to screen them. We need to look after these people (because families are losing these breadwinners, particularly the fathers),” she said.

“You have my word, Mr Buckingham, and to everyone on this committee, we are absolutely committed.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns said while he was “prepared to take that step” of enacting a statewide ban, a national approach would stop the stone from being imported into the country.

“If you’ve got different jurisdictions that have different rules in place, (it) could be imported into Queensland, shipped over the border into NSW, and then worked on in our state now, that’s not a desirable outcome,” he told reporters.

“If we can’t get a national agreement we will go it alone, but I think in the circumstances it’s reasonable to see if we can get all the states to to agree first.”

In late October, hundreds of union workers took to Sydney’s CBD to call for a ban on engineered stone, with Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union members also gathering outside Bunnings stores across the country in protest.

Similar protests were also held in Queensland, Victoria, the ACT, WA and SA.

Strengthened laws recently implemented in NSW have nearly tripled maximum fines for workplaces convicted of the most egregious category 1 offences under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Laws.

Maximum prison fines have also been increased from five to 10 years.

NSW will also establish a silica worker register to track and trace workers who have been exposed to silica to allow access early intervention and better healthcare research.

According to a report from the National Dust Disease Taskforce, nearly one in four workers exposed to silica dust from engineered stone prior to 2018 have been diagnosed with silicosis.

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