Doctors have been urged to check young tradeworkers for signs of silicosis after lawyers have become inundated with calls from concerned tradies about the condition. Silicosis is a life-threatening lung disease caused by inhaled silica particles.
The lawyers are now campaigning to ban workplace practices that cause silicosis, warning that we need to avoid a crisis similar to the one we have with asbestos.
Shine Lawyers cite Australia’s mesothelioma problem which was caused by the inhalation of asbestos by these workers until it was banned in the 1980s. Even now there are people still discovering they have mesothelioma, despite asbestos being banned decades ago.
According to Shine Lawyers’ dust disease expert Roger Singh, young tradies in their 30s and 40s are reporting cases of silicosis. The condition is caused by a progressive and irreversible disease triggered by dust from artificial or engineered stone such as that used in kitchens and bathrooms, which holds 95 per cent more silica than natural stone.
He said the company has been meeting with state governments in Queensland and NSW to talk about banning the process that releases silica dust – dry stone cutting. The company also plans to meet with Victorian and ACT governments soon.