Victorian politicians are working through the last sittings of Parliament for the year and prioritising the health and safety of workers as they seek to strengthen workplace health and safety laws to recognise the profound effects of silicosis and other occupational diseases.
Changes to the Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Bill 2021, introduced this week, mean that workers diagnosed with the eligible diseases will not need to prove stabilisation of the injury to access lump sum payments.
The changes will also allow injured workers already compensated for their illness to make subsequent applications for damages if they contract a related injury or disease later on.
Those in the engineered stone and benchtop industries are likely to benefit most from the legislative updates due to their exposure to crystalline silica dust.
In 2021, four workers have lost their lives to silica-related illnesses in Victoria, and the state’s safety regulator has accepted 59 claims for related diseases.
As stated by Minister for Workplace Safety Ingrid Stitt, “Silica-related illnesses have a debilitating impact on far too many workers in the stonemason industry. This strong action strengthens our support for workers affected by this terrible disease.”
“We’re strengthening our laws to better protect Victorians from the full range of risks that exist in the modern workplace and make sure employers are accountable for their workers’ health and safety.”