WorkSafe targets its effort based on levels of risk. Our harm-prevention activity is focused on common risks across industries, specific higher-risk industries, and lifting health and safety capabilities in all businesses.

When the serious health issue of exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in the engineered stone industry came to light in 2019, we set up an organisation-wide team to ensure a joined up approach to how we respond and support businesses and workers with prevention information and guidance.

All businesses working with engineered stone must manage the risks in their workplace and ensure effective controls are in place to protect workers.

Inspector activities

Since 2019 WorkSafe inspectors have visited businesses working with engineered stone to ensure the risks of silica dust exposure are being managed and effective controls are in place to protect workers. During these visits, inspectors checked risk management and controls processes, and since September 2020 have also provided information to workers on the health check available to them.

The table below shows the number of inspector visits to engineered stone businesses to assess their management of health risks and the number of enforcement actions issued since 2019.

Timeframe Number of businesses visited Number of enforcement actions issued Number of businesses issued an enforcement action Notes
2019 101 113 64 Initial visit to known businesses
September 2020 to June 2022 138 200 90 Revisit to known businesses, plus first visit to any newly identified businesses
May 2022 to February 2023 21 44 18 First visit to newly identified businesses
June 2023 to February 2024 69 110 47 Revisit to highest risk businesses based on their compliance history, plus first visit to any newly identified businesses


Since 2019, overall engineered stone businesses have improved their management of respirable crystalline silica dust. However, inspectors continue to issue enforcement actions to businesses where risks are not being controlled effectively. Caution is needed in comparing enforcement action numbers between years as the range of risks assessed has expanded and assessment practices have evolved.

Awareness and education

WorkSafe first issued a safety alert on the dangers of working with engineered stone in May 2019, revised it November 2019 and further revised it in 2024.

Our range of guidance on managing dusts in the workplace has been updated and key information on silica dust in the workplace translated into multiple languages.

Health and exposure monitoring guidance for engineered stone and other industries has been developed.

In November 2023 we reduced the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica to 0.025mg/m³.

We have published information for both businesses and workers on getting a health check.

Working with agencies

Since 2019, we have supported ACC and the Ministry of Health to implement the accelerated silicosis assessment pathway(external link) so that eligible workers can have their health checked, as part of the joint agency response to accelerated silicosis in engineered stone workers.

We are supporting MBIE to develop options for regulatory intervention in the engineered stone industry.

Engaging with industry

WorkSafe has supported the establishment of an industry group to address engineered stone risks. In 2019 the New Zealand Engineered Stone Advisory Group and IMPAC established the Respirable Crystalline Silica Accreditation Programme(external link), a voluntary industry accreditation programme that supports businesses that work with engineered stone.

We have also worked with engineered stone importers and suppliers, and briefed engineered stone retailers, retailers of cooktop appliances and trade associations on the risk to workers making modifications to benchtops.

We have worked with occupational health professionals through our role on the Dust Diseases Taskforce, and also engaged with occupational health professional groups such as the New Zealand Occupational Health Nurses Association, New Zealand Occupational Hygiene Society, Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Australia New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine.