The issue of silicosis has been drawing a lot of attention in recent times as the number of stoneworkers with the condition rises.
Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and mineral ores such as quartz.
Today the Greens have called for a ban on manufactured stone to prevent more workers dying from silicosis.
Manufactures or engineered stone, is a composite material made of crushed stone bound together by an adhesive, is a huge culprit in the growing number of silicosis incidents.
Engineered ‘marble’ a common application in new homes
Engineered ‘marble’ is the most common application as indoor flooring and walls, while the quartz based product is used primarily for kitchen benchtops.
The NSW Parliament will debate a motion brought on by Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge to ban the use of manufactured stone.
The motion follows evidence heard by the Law and Justice Committee in Parliament last week that there is no safe exposure level to silica dust created by cutting manufactured stone.
Shoebridge said the NSW Parliament has heard evidence from Dr Chris Colquhoun the Chief Medical Officer of Icare, that any time you are cutting manufactured stone you have to make the assumption that if you breathe the stuff in you are going to die. ‘Parliament will be negligent in its duties to the people of NSW if does not act,’ said Shoebridge.
Physicians evidence – silicosis is worse than asbestos
‘Dr Graeme Edwards from The Royal Australasian College of Physicians gave evidence that silicosis is worse than asbestos, we heard evidence from a doctor whose youngest patient is 23.
‘Silicosis is killing workers with young families, affecting people whose entire lives should be ahead of them.
According to Icare, there were 40 cases of silicosis reported in NSW in 2018-19, up from eight the previous financial year. ‘This figure almost certainly underestimates the number of cases.’
Shoebridge said that there are thousands of workers in the manufactured stone industry in NSW, all of who are exposed to silica dust, often at appallingly high levels.
‘We cannot afford to wait any longer we must act now to prevent further deaths and ban cutting manufactured stone.
‘All political parties should put the lives of workers above the demand for shiny bench-tops and support our call to ban manufactured stone products,’ he said.