A young Gold Coast stonemason named Anthony White, who died recently from the lung disease silicosis, is being remembered for publicly exposing the dangers of silica dust, amid what’s being described as a “nationwide epidemic”.
Silicosis is an incurable and often fatal lung disease caused by breathing dust containing fragments of crystalline silica. Crystalline silica (silica) is found in sand, stone, concrete and mortar. It is also used to make a variety of products including composite stone used to fabricate kitchen and bathroom benchtops, bricks, tiles and some plastics. When workers cut, crush, drill, polish, saw or grind products that contain silica, dust particles are generated that are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and cause illness or disease including silicosis.
An audit of Queensland’s manufacturing stone industry has revealed 98 workers have contracted the potentially deadly lung disease silicosis — 15 of those terminal — with more than 550 workplace breaches in what health experts are calling a major epidemic.
For more information visit the Safe Work Australia website page here.