Dust disease in the news

Over the past five years, there has been worrying resurgence of occupational lung disease documented in Australia.

Dust disease in the news

Over the past five years, there has been worrying resurgence of occupational lung disease documented in Australia.

Construction worker

Brisbane Times June 26 2020

A lifetime of free lung checks for workers to halt dust disease

Thousands of mine and quarry workers will now have free lung health checks for the rest of their lives if they want the testing. The measure will see about 15,000 workers given free screenings for life, as the Queensland government moves to support workers with one of the lung dust diseases which have re-emerged in recent years.

Mine worker animation

The Guardian 24 Jan 2020

‘It’s really tragic’: why are coalminers still dying from black lung disease?

Black lung disease is preventable – but high rates have emerged in recent years as workers inhale toxic dust, prompting calls for better protections.

Stone worker

RACGP News 23 Jan 2020

Government to take action on dust disease

The Federal Government is taking action to accept all recommendations from the interim advice of the National Dust Disease Taskforce.

‘At present, there is no known treatment to stop the progression of the disease.’

 That is Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt discussing accelerated silicosis, a preventable occupational lung disease that occurs in workers as a result of exposure to silica dust.

 ‘This can occur in various industries, with recent cases related to the manufacture and installation of artificial stone bench tops, largely throughout Queensland,’ he said.

Stone worker

Brisbane Times January 20 2020

Calls for action after one in five stonemasons diagnosed with disease

The Queensland government has defended measures it put in place to deal with silicosis, as figures show nearly one in five stonemasons in the state has the deadly lung disease.

Health screening by WorkCover Queensland shows out of about 1000 stonemasons working in the state, 186 have been diagnosed with silicosis, or just over 18 per cent of workers.

Of those, 26 have developed the more severe progressive massive fibrosis.

Dust disease

ABC Radio 26 December 2019

Silicosis-causing silica significantly 'more potent' than asbestos

The number of known silicosis cases in Australia is rapidly climbing, and the upward trend is expected to continue.  An estimated 350 people are currently being treated for the often fatal lung disease, around a hundred more than the last estimate in September.

The latest silicosis figures come from a leading dust diseases clinician, Dr Graeme Edwards from the College of Physicians. Click here to listen to Dr Edwards’ interview with ABC Radio’s PM news program.

The Medical Republic

The Medical Republic 19 December 2019

Why silicosis is on the rise – and what to do about it

Australia is currently in the midst of a major outbreak of silicosis primarily due to the installation of artificial stone benchtops. This is particularly affecting young and vulnerable workers.

Computer graphic of internal organs

Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance Journal October 2019

Silicosis — the new asbestos?

Silicosis is one of the oldest recognised occupational lung diseases, with the first laws regulating silica exposure in Australia enacted in the 1920s. Maurice Blackburn associate Timothy McGinley notes that, traditionally, cases of silicosis were limited to certain industries, such as mining, quarrying and tunnelling.

Image of woman

The Sydney Morning Herald 19 September 2019

Queensland stone benchtop industry code of practice announced

The Queensland government will set up the country’s first code of practice for the stone benchtop industry, in the wake of a spate of cases of the deadly lung disease silicosis.

The code is set to come into effect on October 31 this year and applies to the entire stone benchtop industry, both natural and artificial.

Industrial Relations minister Grace Grace announced in state parliament on Wednesday that the new guidelines were developed by the working group set up in the wake of the issue becoming a concern last year.

Man and woman leaning on stone benchtop

ABC News 16 September 2019

Silicosis surge prompts more calls for a ban on engineered stone products

Silicosis surge prompts more calls for a ban on engineered stone products. A man who developed silicosis after working with engineered stone products has called for the products to be banned to prevent more people developing the disease. "There's no way you can produce a kitchen purely, without having some sort of dust come off the manufacturing process," Braden Barnes told 7.30. 

space explorer

Sydney Morning Herald 16 September 2019

The simple problem that could challenge space explorers

Amid the many challenges that will face humans as we reach out to the stars, the simple problem of dust could prove among the most difficult.

That is the view of Professor G. Kim Prisk, from the University of California, who in the latest Medical Journal of Australia says lung health is a major challenge for people who leave Earth.

chest CT image showing asbestos damage

The Guardian 17 August 2019

The next asbestos? What you need to know about silica

TV programs and tightening credit are prompting more Australians to renovate their homes while evidence mounts that kitchen upgrades can have deadly consequences for tradesmen.

Silica from stone benchtops is responsible for serious and sometimes fatal health problems for the workers who cut and install these products.

Doctor holiday x-ray film

Monash University Lens 2 Aug 2019

Silicosis: hormone hope in fight against deadly disease

Monash University’s Dr Ryan Hoy – a research fellow and respiratory physician – first heard of the alarming new silicosis outbreak in Australia in 2015 through the case of a Vietnamese stonemason in New South Wales. Now only four years later the incurable disease is at epidemic levels, with young tradespeople either dying or having lung transplants. Both outcomes, Dr Hoy says, death or usually terminal illness, are “unnecessary.”

Aus government logo

Australian Government Department of Health 26 July 2019

Taskforce to Tackle Silicosis and Other Dust Diseases

The Australian Government Department of Health has established a National Dust Disease Taskforce to develop a national approach to the prevention, early identification, control and management of dust diseases in Australia.

The incidence of lung disease caused by dust, particularly silicosis, has increased in recent years but little is known about the prevalence of these diseases.

Man sitting on a step

The Australian 8 July 2019

National action urged on deadly stone dust disease

The federal government has been called on to develop a national dust-related diseases register to cope with the nation’s spiralling silicosis epidemic.

The plea from Queensland’s Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace is backed by law firms handling the multitude of compensation claims from the growing number of stonemasons afflicted with the incurable lung disease.

Stone cutting worker

The Sydney Morning Herald 3 July 2019

Queensland dust disease register live as silicosis epidemic bites

Dust-related-disease advocates say a new public register is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done for sufferers of the debilitating disease silicosis.

Following changes made by the Queensland government, all instances of pneumoconiosis, silicosis and other occupational dust diseases will now be recorded on the Queensland Health Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register.

2GB logo

2GB 25 June 2019

Legal Matters: Dust diseases

Ann-Maree Pascoli from Turner Freeman Lawyers joins 2GB presenter Chris Smith to discuss dust disease and the legal options available to workers who have developed lung disease after exposure to hazardous dust in the workplace. 

9 News logo

Nine News 30 May 2019

Stonemasons join lung disease class action

A law firm is preparing a class action against bench-top manufacturers with an alarming number of workers developing potentially deadly lung diseases from exposure to silica dust. A young Victorian stonemason who recruited his brother and three of his best mates into the industry is now part of a class action after they were all diagnosed with deadly lung disease... Doctors fear many more cases will emerge from a product some have subbed 'the new asbestos'.

Sand falling through someones hand

Manufacturers’ Monthly 2 May 2019

Victorian government protects workers from silica dust with new measures

The Victorian government will launch a compliance and enforcement blitz targeting more than 300 high-risk workplaces, focussing on stonemasonry workshops to prevent the deadly lung disease silicosis. Silicosis is a potentially fatal and irreversible lung disease caused by breathing in minute dust particles…

SBS News logo

SBS News 1 May 2019

Crackdown on silicosis disease by Victorian government

The booming popularity of artificial stone for household benchtops is fuelling an aggressive form of the deadly lung disease silicosis, prompting a crackdown from the Victorian government. Stonemasonry workshops in Victoria face a dry-cutting ban and increased inspections to prevent the disease which is primarily suffered by young workers…

ABC dust disease news

ABC News 30 April 2019

Stonemasons leaving industry as silicosis epidemic takes hold

The Egyptian pyramids and the Great Wall of China would not have been built without stonemasons, but finding a tradesman to simply cut a hole in a kitchen benchtop is getting harder in Queensland as the silicosis epidemic takes hold.

Chest x-ray

Sydney Morning Herald April 2019

Government promises national dust diseases taskforce to tackle growing lung disease crisis

A national dust diseases taskforce will be created under a $5 million plan by the Morrison government to address the worsening occupational lung disease crisis.

Ahead of the federal election, the government has promised to spend $5 million to establish a dedicated taskforce…

Insight plus logo

Insightplus November 2018

Artificial stone workers’ silicosis: Australia’s new epidemic

SILICOSIS, or fibrosis of the lungs due to inhalation of crystalline free silica, is a disease that was thought to be obsolete in Australia until very recently. Silicosis is the oldest and best recognised of the pneumoconioses or dust diseases. It can occur in workers employed in many occupations. Until recently, cases usually affected older men… 

Stone bench cutting workshop

ABC News October 2018

Silicosis: Here's what you need to know about the dust lung disease killing stonemasons

With an alarming number of cases being confirmed across the country, doctors say silicosis could be the next occupational lung disease crisis to hit Australia since the asbestos disaster. Here's what you need to know about the disease, and why some workers may not know they have it…

Person with respiratory disease

Sydney Morning Herald July 2017

New cases of silicosis in Australia linked to bathroom and kitchen stone products

As a young bricky, Chris Parmangos had no idea silica dust rising from the Sydney sandstone and bricks he worked with would cost him his health.

Mr Parmangos was about 33, and 15 years into his job as a labourer in Sydney, when he was diagnosed with early signs of lung disease…