More than half of Victoria’s 1,400 stonemasons have now registered for silica health screening, as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s comprehensive action plan to address and prevent unsafe silica exposure.
The free assessments are a key part of the Labor Government’s strategy to protect workers from exposure to silica dust and prevent them from contracting the deadly lung disease silicosis and other silica related diseases.
Those working with engineered stone are particularly at risk due to the high concentration of crystalline silica in the products they work with.
A year since registrations opened in May 2019, there have now been 706 current and former stonemasons sign up to the testing program through WorkSafe. Of those, 472 have completed the initial screening process, which can take up to three months.
While reaching the registration milestone is an achievement, tragically 78 claims have been lodged with WorkSafe following positive diagnoses for silicosis among the 365 stonemasons that have been referred for secondary screening by a respiratory physician.
A compensation process is in place for these workers and their families so they can get the personalised treatment and support they need.
WorkSafe is now working to have the remainder of Victoria’s stonemasons register for the testing in the next 12 months.
This includes a pilot program reaching out to workers whose first language is Vietnamese, with the intention of expanding to other culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The Plan also includes the developing Australia’s first licensing scheme for engineered stone, a state-wide ban on uncontrolled dry cutting of the product, a tough new compliance code and a targeted enforcement blitz by WorkSafe inspectors.
Find more information about the silica health screening program worksafe.vic.gov.au/crystalline-silica-free-health-assessments-stonemasons.
As noted by Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy
“Reaching this milestone means many people facing this deadly disease are now receiving the treatment they need.”
“I encourage all past and present stonemasons who have been exposed to silica dust to register for a free health assessment as soon as possible.”
“Silicosis has had a debilitating effect on too many tradies – that’s why we’ve banned dry cutting and are rolling out an unprecedented enforcement blitz to help protect Victorian workers.”