Drive change

In recent years in Australia, we have seen a re-emergence of many occupational lung diseases, including asbestos-related lung disease and, most recently, silicosis. Silicosis is an irreversible and highly preventable lung disease caused by inhalation of silica dust. In 2011, approximately 587,000 Australian workers were exposed to silica dust in the workplace and it’s estimated that 5758 of these will develop a lung cancer over the course of their life as a result.i In March 2019, stonecutter Anthony White died after being exposed to silica dust in the workplace. He is believed to be the first tradesperson to die of the disease in Australia.

 

In 2018, The Federal Department of Health, commissioned Lung Foundation Australia to develop the first National Strategic Action Plan for Lung Conditions. This plan identifies occupational lung disease as a priority and we have outlined a number of recommended actions including:

  • Facilitate establishment of a national register for occupational lung disease with an expert steering committee to develop processes that ensure quality data entry, collation and analysis.
  • Investigate the establishment of a process for mandatory notification of occupational lung diseases.
  • Deliver awareness and education campaigns to improve knowledge of occupational hazards that affect the lungs and to promote safe workplaces.