In the 2018FY lung related compensation claims were three times more expensive than the average injury claim (ReturnToWorkSA 2018).
Silicosis is one type of lung related compensation claim. It is caused by the inhalation of microscopic particles of crystalline silica dust when material containing silica is worked on. There has been a recent growth in exposure to silica dust with the increase in popularity of engineered stone based products including kitchen bench tops, which have 90-95% silica content. Silicosis can be fatal with the first reported death from working on engineered stone occurring only last month, and another 15 workers with terminal cases of silicosis undergoing care (ABC News 2019).
The table below provides details on the materials that are likely to contain silica, and the common job tasks that expose a worker to silica inhalation (Lung Foundation Australia 2017). If your workers are performing these tasks with these materials then they may be at risk of silicosis.
With the recent increase in silica related compensation claims ReturnToWorkSA, SafeWork SA, and Mining & Quarrying Occupational Health & Safety Committee (MAQOHSC) are working to address the concerns of employers, improve control measures, reduce the risk of silicosis to workers, and provide support services to SA employers and workers.
CHG provides employers with health monitoring programs which may include assessment by an occupational physician to determine exposure risk, recommendations for mitigating exposure, as well as a tailored periodic medical to monitor the lung health of workers who are at risk.
For more information on health monitoring programs, contact CHG.