Mon 16 Dec 2019

WorkSafe warns about the dangers of silica dust

WorkSafe Tasmania have launched a campaign warning Tasmanians about the dangers of silica dust following a spike in claims from workers suffering potentially deadly silicosis.

WorkCover Tasmania Board Member, Dr Robert Walters cannot express highly enough that people fully understand silica dust’s potential deadly consequences.

“In Tasmania there have been nine claims for workers compensation for silicosis caused by work since 1990.  Five of these have been lodged since October 2018 by workers engaged in manufacturing engineered stone benchtops,” Dr Walters said.

“Nationally, a highly publicised spike in the number of silicosis diagnoses in workers in the stone industry since 2018 has resulted in targeted interventions to improve understanding of the risks and control measures required under Work Health and Safety laws.

“The average cost per dust related injury claim is also expected to rise with the number of silicosis cases received recently.

“Crystalline silica (silica) is found in sand, stone, concrete and mortar. It is also used to make a variety of products including composite stone used to fabricate kitchen and bathroom benchtops, bricks, tiles and some plastics.

“When products that contain silica are cut, crushed, drilled, polished, sawed or ground, dust particles are generated that are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and cause illness or disease including silicosis.

“Silica is most dangerous to health when dust is generated, becomes airborne and is then inhaled.

“The Silica Dust Awareness Campaign urges people who work in labouring occupations, technicians and trades workers, machinery operators and drivers and private renovators to head to the WorkSafe website, to learn more about how to be silica safe.“

To find out more, visit www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/silicasafe.