The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) is issuing an urgent call to screen and manage aggressive artificial stone lung disease affecting young tradies.
Australia is currently in the grips of an epidemic of accelerated silicosis, a preventable occupational lung disease occurring in workers as a result of exposure to silica dust. This can occur in various industries, but the recent spike in cases is related to the manufacture and installation of artificial stone bench tops.
Workers across Australia are at risk of developing an aggressive, debilitating and potentially lethal respiratory disease due to unsafe work practices in the manufacture and installation of artificial stone, commonly used for kitchen, bathroom and laundry benchtops. It is imperative that medical professionals act now to identify, diagnose, manage and support at-risk workers. This alert is intended to raise awareness of the severity of the problem and garner an immediate and proportionate response from health professionals and safety regulators.
AFOEM and TSANZ have undertaken extensive work to build a foundation of knowledge on Accelerated Silicosis. As there is limited knowledge on the disease at the present, AFOEM and TSANZ are advocating for the creation of government-funded health surveillance and disease registries necessary to support workers who have been exposed. AFOEM and TSANZ are also requesting industry regulators take urgent action to address silicosis as it continues to put workers’ lives at risk.
Both major Australian parties have committed to supporting the establishment of a national taskforce with the responsibility of leading and coordinating a national response to the accelerated silicosis epidemic.
View the public resources created by AFOEM and TSANZ.
Accelerated silicosis is caused by the inhalation of large amounts of respirable crystalline silica (very fine silica dust).
Read key information about queries and concerns relating to this condition.