Qld stone manufacturing audit reveals shocking breaches of workplace safety on silicosis
21 February 2019
Lawyers for workers suffering with silicosis have today called on all states to undertake comprehensive audits of the manufacturing stone mason industry after a recent Queensland audit identified more than 550 workplace breaches for unsafe practices, with 98 workers found to have contracted silicosis.
Maurice Blackburn Dust Diseases Principal Jonathan Walsh, who is acting for a number of workers in Queensland diagnosed with silicosis, said the figures revealed through the Queensland audit were shocking and showed that states could not waste any further time in acting urgently to protect workers.
“These figures today, including that more than 550 workplace breaches have been recorded, are a wake-up call to the stone manufacturing industry that the risks of silica dust exposure are significant and that too many workplaces still do not seem to be heeding this message,” Mr Walsh said.
“It is particularly concerning to see that some of these breaches relate to the dry cutting of stone, despite the Queensland Government announcing a ban on such practices last year.
“We applaud Queensland for undertaking this audit and for its continued push to protect workers in the stonemason industry from silica dust exposure as well as working to assist those already impacted, including through providing health screening.
“All states need to be equally showing a similar level of urgency in dealing with this issue – this is an entirely preventable condition if the proper workplace health and safety procedures are followed.
“It is unacceptable in 2019 that workers, many whom are only at the beginning of their working lives, are continuing to be exposed to silica dust causing serious illness,” he said.