RACP calls on all parties to implement dust diseases recommendations

The RACP has welcomed the NSW Upper House Standing Committee on Law and Justice's 2018 review of the Dust Diseases Scheme and is calling on all sides of politics to work together to commit to implementing all the recommendations.

Dr Graeme Edwards, an occupational physician and Fellow of the RACP said:

“These recommendations are an essential step forward to achieve the eradication of silica exposure and give people the best possible standard of care.

“All states should take note and move quickly to implement the standards.

“We are calling on all parties in NSW to commit to implement the recommendations immediately after the election. This should be a state health priority.

“The RACP reiterates our call for an immediate prohibition of dry cutting techniques and the urgent establishment of a nation program of respiratory health assessments for all people that have worked in the industry.”

The RACP through its Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) is working with the Thoracic Society to develop answers to frequently asked questions to assist doctors and their patients throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Urgent action on the deadly silicosis disease

Silicosis is a disease caused by inhalation of crystalline free silica.Itwas thought to be eradicated in Australia until very recently. However, there has been an extremely concerning resurgence in cases of accelerated silicosis in NSW which has resulted in young men developing severe progressive lung disease and disablement. The disease can be deadly and ultimately requires alung transplant.

The RACP calls on the NSW Government to take urgent action. Accelerated silicosis is a totally preventable disease. Experts fromour Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) andThoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) recommend the following actions:.

  1. Coordinated national action:Urgent establishment of a national.occupational lung diseases registry to map cases in similar industries across NSW, as well action from state and territory Governments.
  2. Proper screening:Undertake serial health screening of all workers (past and present) in the artificial stone industry
  3. Consistent, evidence-based standards:Establish a Medical Advisory Committee to ensure uniform standards of investigation, diagnosis and treatment and independent advice to government as well as the development of diagnostic and treatment guidelines.
  4. Monitoring:Undertake an urgent review of the dust control measures used in the industry, including independent monitoring of dust levels
  5. Assess exposure:Undertake an independent assessment of worker exposure associated with optimal dust control (i.e wet cutting) and appropriate PPE to allow accurate risk assessment and facilitate application of appropriate controls.
  6. Better regulation andcompliance:Comprehensively enforce the current hazardous substances regulations related to silica dust exposure, and implement and enforce an immediate prohibition on uncontrolled dry cutting techniques
  7. Collaboration:Collaborate with the Federal and other state and territory Governments as this is a national problem. An effective response requires the collaboration of all stakeholders, particularly the most populous state of NSW.

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