AFOEM-led submission to the National Dust Disease Taskforce

Date published:
24 May 2021

The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) leads the RACP’s strong advocacy on accelerated silicosis, in collaboration with the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ). As a direct result of this advocacy, the National Dust Disease Taskforce (the Taskforce) was established in July 2019 to develop a national approach to the prevention, early identification, control and management of occupational dust diseases in Australia.

The RACP, AFOEM and TSANZ continue to respond to the Taskforce’s consultations, including a submission in November 2020 providing support and feedback on the Taskforce’s interim advice.

Most recently, AFOEM has provided feedback on the Taskforce’s draft Vision, Strategies and Priority Areas for Action. This consultation round focused on whether the Taskforce had identified the right priority areas for action, and any practical issues in their implementation.

The key recommendation outlined in this submission is calling for the establishment of a lead multi-agency group within the health sector who will have prime responsibility for driving the implementation of the Taskforce recommendations. The group should include representatives from key stakeholders, have clear terms of reference, be properly funded and have a long timeframe to carry on the work of the Taskforce.

It is also essential that all jurisdictions commit to mutually progress the strategies for the prevention, identification, monitoring and treatment of occupational respiratory diseases, with the national registry being a critical component.

The submission also contains specific recommendations suggesting that the Taskforce:

  • strengthen the wording of the vision to ‘Eliminate silicosis, and significantly reduce the incidence of occupational respiratory diseases in Australia’
  • develop a strategy which covers education and training for workers, businesses and consumers and extend to all healthcare professionals
  • include a priority action on assistance/alternatives for employers which covers assistance and training with appropriate cutting techniques, where to find ventilation, how to prioritise the various tasks required for compliance and ways to combine them with their other work tasks.

The Taskforce will provide a final report to the Council of Australian Governments’ Health Council, through the Commonwealth Minister for Health by Wednesday, 30 June 2021. AFOEM and TSANZ will continue to use their expert knowledge and regularly engage with key stakeholders to support the implementation of the Taskforce’s recommendations.

Read the submission

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