More than 1,000 workers from the stonemason industry have now registered for a free health check-up as part of the Victorian Government’s action plan to protect workers from deadly silica dust.
The free health screenings were established in May 2019 for an estimated 1,400 past and present workers in the Victorian stonemason industry.
Stonemasons are at a high risk due to the cutting and polishing of artificial stone which contains high concentrations of crystalline silica. Exposure to silica dust can lead to deadly lung and respiratory diseases, including silicosis.
The early identification of a respiratory disease through the check-up program means workers facing this deadly disease can receive the treatment they need as soon as possible.
While reaching this registration milestone is significant, tragically there has been 129 workers diagnosed with silica related diseases since the beginning of the program in 2019.
A fast-tracked compensation process is in place for affected workers and their families so they can get the personalised treatment and support they need.
The government’s action plan includes the development of Australia’s first licensing scheme for engineered stone, a state-wide ban on the uncontrolled dry cutting of the product, and being the only jurisdiction to immediately adopt the new, reduced Workplace Exposure Standard for crystalline silica.
The plan also includes reaching out to workers whose first language is Vietnamese, Cantonese, Italian or Mandarin with dedicated in-language information highlighting the risks of working with engineered stone.
A tough enforcement blitz has seen more than 1,000 silica related visits to workplaces since 1 July 2019 and WorkSafe inspectors issuing more than 450 compliance notices ordering employers to improve their safeguards against exposure to deadly silica dust.
Find more information about the health screening program, visit worksafe.vic.gov.au/crystalline-silica.
Source: Vic Government