Victorian stonemasons exposed to silicosis risks at work will be able to get world-class health screenings and treatment under a new partnership between the state’s health regulator, WorkSafe, and the Alfred Hospital.
Ingrid Stitt, the Minister for Workplace Safety, announced Australia’s only dedicated public hospital occupational respiratory clinic, The Alfred Occupational Respiratory Clinic.
Eligible workers in the stonemasonry industry will be able to undergo full health assessments for silicosis and will receive health outcomes or diagnosis, as well as a treatment plan in a one-day clinic visit. The strategy limits time off work and reduces wait times for results.
The clinic is an advancement of the Andrew’s Government’s existing plan to provide ongoing care to affected workers, in addition to regulations to better protect them.
It’s estimated that Victoria has 1,400 stonemasons, and more than 90 per cent of those have registered for the screening program. The registration is considered a milestone but in line with higher registration levels, there have been 168 claims to WorkSafe following a positive silicosis diagnosis. A fast-tracked compensation process for affected workers is also in place.
The Government’s Silica Action Plan also means that the uncontrolled dry-cutting of engineered stone is banned, there are stricter codes of compliance and licensing schemes, as well as high profile enforcement operations by WorkSafe inspectors.
As stated by Minister for Workplace Safety Ingrid Stitt, “Silicosis has had a debilitating effect on too many tradies – this partnership will mean many people facing this horrible disease will be able to get the care and support they deserve from a dedicated team of health professionals.”