Silicosis is an occupational lung disease contracted by a worker after excessive workplace exposure to silica dust. Once contracted, there's currently no known treatment which will arrest the progression of the disease.1

Medical practitioners and other health professionals need to identify at-risk workers to minimise the impact of silicosis and related diseases. This includes effective health screening and early diagnosis, management, and support of affected workers.2

The College has been instrumental to establishing health care strategies to eradicate these preventable diseases in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Our members have championed changes through:

  • Membership of expert groups, like the National Dust Diseases Taskforce.
  • Writing detailed evidence-based submissions to governments and organisations.
  • Leading and promoting research priorities to build the evidence base and knowledge.
  • Providing expert workplace health advice to stakeholders.
  • Calling for a national occupational respiratory disease registry.

The drive for change

We recommend:

  • A national regulatory framework and enforcement plan for all States and Territories.
  • A national respiratory protection program delivered in partnership with the States and Territories.
  • Opportunities and support for specialist physicians to engage with employers, supervisors, workplace regulators and unions to identify and assess silica exposure and other hazards which are work, health and safety issues.
  • Inclusion of occupational and environmental medicine and respiratory medicine expertise on jurisdictional bodies with the responsibility for addressing workplace health conditions.
  • Full implementation of the recommendations from the 2021 National Dust Disease Taskforce report.
  • Implementation of an appropriate national monitoring and evaluation framework.
  • Full implementation of the National Silicosis Prevention Strategy (PDF) developed by the Australian Lung Foundation and a steering committee with several RACP members.
  • Comprehensive training for physicians and other health professionals engaged in preventing, screening and managing silicosis and related diseases.
  • Appropriate funding for research to identify risk factors, disease progression and effective management of occupational respiratory diseases.3

Silicosis overview

Find out about types of silicosis, progression, symptoms, and the importance of regular health surveillance.


See key questions and responses about silicosis.

Advice for physicians

Read clinical practice information about testing, diagnosing and health monitoring strategies.


Media statements


2020 to 2022

1 Austin EK, James C, Tessier J. Early detection methods for silicosis in Australia and internationally: a review of the literature.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021 Jul 31;18(15):8123.
2 Hoy RF, Dimitriadis C, Abramson M, Glass DC, Gwini S, Hore-Lacy F, Jimenez-Martin J, Walker-Bone K, Sim MR. Prevalence and risk factors for silicosis among a large cohort of stone benchtop industry workers. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2023 Jun 16.
3 Alif SM, Glass DC, Abramson M, Hoy R, Sim MR. Occupational Lung Diseases in Australia. 2020 Feb. Pages 1 to 86. Safe Work Australia.

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