The Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health has prepared a report, published by Safe Work Australia (SWA), about occupational lung disease in Australia from 2006 to 2019. The report provides an overview of occupational lung diseases in Australia, identifying industries and occupations where workers may be at risk, such as construction, mining and quarrying. Michelle Baxter, SWA Chief Executive Officer, noted that the report shows that occupational lung diseases continue to be a health concern in Australia and substantially contribute to the burden of lung diseases. The report highlighted a substantial increase in pneumoconiosis, especially coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, and silicosis from working with engineered stone.
The report also revealed a decline in workers compensation claims for asbestos-related occupational lung diseases, such as asbestosis. Findings also suggest an increase in the understanding of the role of occupational exposure and the risk of developing coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, and an apparent decline in work-related asthma cases, as evidenced by fewer compensation claims. Baxter said the findings from the report will be used to further inform and share SWA’s occupational lung diseases work plan and national policy, to address occupational lung diseases.
“This work was identified as part of Safe Work Australia’s occupational lung diseases workplan,” Baxter said. “Safe Work Australia members saw great value and need in reviewing the occupational lung disease landscape in Australia, given the last report into the extent and incidence of occupational lung diseases was published in 2006.” Baxter noted that Safe Work Australia members are actively making changes to workplace policy related to occupational lung diseases, to improve work practices and protect the health and safety of Australian workers.
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