The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) and its Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM), the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ), The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists, the Australian New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM) and Lung Foundation Australia have welcomed today’s announcement that if re-elected the Coalition will establish a national dust diseases taskforce and a national occupationally acquired respiratory disease surveillance and registry program to address the accelerated silicosis crisis facing the artificial stone benchtop industry.
This funding will ensure that affected stonemasons are identified early and receive the best possible treatment, no matter where they live, and that all states and territories develop a consistent response to this crisis.
Accelerated silicosis is a preventable occupational lung disease occurring in workers as a result of exposure to silica dust. This can occur in various industries, but the recent spike in cases is related to the manufacture and installation of artificial stone bench tops.
In the last six months in Queensland alone, over 100 stonemasons have been diagnosed with the preventable lung disease and in March this year, 36-year-old Gold Coast stone mason Anthony White lost his life to the condition. Silicosis represents the biggest lung disease crisis since asbestosis and it deserves a rapid and comprehensive government response.
We have been calling on the major parties to commit to urgently establishing a Commonwealth-sponsored Dust Disease Taskforce, with the responsibility of leading and coordinating a national response to the epidemic. We welcome the Coalition’s announcement of $5 million to establish the taskforce, and look forward to Labor’s response.
Media & Communications Coordinator – Paxton Roth
07 3251 3654