You will have likely heard a lot about silicosis in recent months, especially if you work in the stone benchtop industry. Silicosis is a disease of the lungs caused by breathing in very fine (or respirable) silica dust. Silica exposure also causes a variety of other medical conditions. Workers exposed to silica should undergo regular health monitoring with an appropriately trained medical practitioner
Silica is found in many substances encountered in workplaces including sand, cement and mortar. Of relevance to the stone benchtop industry, it is present in very high concentration in engineered stone (like Caesarstone and Essastone), but it is also found in natural stone products such as granite, travertine and marble.
Fine or respirable silica dust is produced when stones are cut, grinded or polished. Workers have been at particular risk when these processed have been performed “dry” and without appropriate dust control and respiratory protective measures.
WorkCover Queensland are currently coordinating and funding a health screening program for workers who have been exposed to silica. Dr Chris Cunneen and Dr Andrew Lingwood from OccPhyz Consulting are on the panel of specialist occupational physicians performing these health assessments. They have been performing health screening of exposed workers since the commencement of the program.
Dr Cunneen and Dr Lingwood perform detailed assessments of workers’ clinical history and symptoms, occupational history to establish the degree of exposure to silica dust and review the radiology and lung function testing that is carried out as part of these assessments. Recommendations for any further medical follow up and risk controls in the workplace are discussed with the worker.
The initial health screening assessments are being booked and coordinated by WorkCover Queensland. Workers will however need ongoing regular health monitoring (even if they leave the industry). This is a requirement of SafeWork Australia given the potential of silicosis to develop over time. Given our extensive experience in this field, OccPhyz Consulting are well placed to assist workers and businesses with these ongoing health monitoring requirements.
Please contact our friendly and knowledgeable staff to discuss how we can assist you or your organisation.
Phone: (07) 3348 9611