Lawyers call for free & accurate silicosis lung screening for all NSW stonemasons
20th Sep 2019
All stonemasons in NSW need access to accurate and free lung screening for silicosis, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) told the Dust Diseases Scheme review panel this week.
“While the Queensland and Victorian Governments have implemented free lung scans and testing for stonemasons, the NSW Government has not yet offered screenings to all stonemasons and is only planning to offer free first round screenings to those people working for employers with less than 30 employees,” said ALA spokesperson, Ms Joanne Wade.
“The screening will be offered through a mobile respiratory screening clinic, but we believe that the technology available on the iCare Dust Diseases Lung Bus requires further investment from the Government to bring it up to the standard required.
“We won’t know the extent of the problem until all workers are screened using proper technology. When workers are all appropriately tested, their treatment can begin and we will have a better understanding of the burden of silicosis within the stonemasonry industry.”
The ALA is also calling for systems to support the transition of workers from stonemasonry to other industries.
“There has been a rise in workers in the manufactured stone industry being diagnosed with accelerated silicosis and the people being diagnosed are younger than ever,” said Ms Wade.
“If their illness is diagnosed early enough and is treatable, they might be able to work again but not in the same industry. They are told they need to cease working in dusty environments and for the majority of these workers, they don’t know anything else.
“We need to have the support in place for stonemasons to re-train and move into other industry.”
The ALA is a national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual.