RACP welcomes COAG consideration of Silicosis at its meeting today

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has welcomed Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement that he will raise the issue of the health risks of working with artificial stone benchtops at todays’s meeting of COAG Health Ministers.

Dr Graeme Edwards, an occupational physician and Fellow of the RACP said, “Accelerated silicosis in the artificial stone benchtop industry is a public health crisis with deadly and devastating impacts on workers, their families and their communities.

“The call by the Federal Minister for Health to his State and Territory counterparts for state workplace regulators to immediately investigate risks to the health of stonemasons and to immediately stop unsafe work practices is a good first step to protecting workers”,

“We are calling on state and federal governments to ensure that workers are urgently protected, and call for immediate action including:

  • Respiratory health assessments of all workers (past and present) in the industry
  • An urgent review of the dust control measures used in the industry, including monitoring of dust levels
  • Comprehensive enforcement of hazardous substances regulations related to silica dust exposure
  • Enforcement of an immediate prohibition on dry cutting techniques
  • A national occupationally acquired respiratory disease surveillance and registry program.
  • Make occupationally acquired respiratory diseases a “notifiable condition”
  • Safe Work Australia to immediately reduce the Time Weighted Average Workplace Exposure Standard (TWA WES) in Australia to 0.05mg/m3
  • Support urgent research to consider the even lower standard of 0.025mg/m3 if supported by the evidence - this level is currently recommended by the American Council of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and some Australian hygienists

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. See below.

Frequently Asked Questionshere

Contact: Matthew Phillips – 0408 541 717, media@racp.edu.au


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