Government to take action on dust disease in Australia

Date: Feb 22, 2020

It has been reported that the Australian government will be taking action to accept all recommendations from the interim advice of the National Dust Disease Taskforce.

This organisation was established on 26 July 2019. Its mission is to develop a national approach to the prevention, early identification, control and management of dust diseases in Australia.

While discussing the marked acceleration of silicosis cases across Australia, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt stated, “At present, there is no known treatment to stop the progression of the disease.”

Silicosis is caused by inhalation of very fine silica dust. Exposure to the substance is a well-known occupational hazard in sandblasting, tunnelling and mining, amongst other workplaces in Australia (and especially Queensland), for many years. At present there is no known treatment that will slow down or stop the progression of the disease, with some affected workers even needing a lung transplant.

In January 2020, Minister Hunt announced the Federal Government will be acting on all five recommendations of the National Dust Disease Taskforce’s interim advice, which includes:

  • Developing a targeted education and communication campaign to raise awareness of the risks of working with engineered stone
  • Ongoing staged development of a national dust disease registry, with specific data requirements recommended by the Taskforce
  • Targeted investment in key research activities to improve understanding of prevention, diagnosis and treatment
  • Developing national guidance on screening workers working with engineered stone
  • Development of a national approach to identify occupational silica dust exposure and other future occupational diseases

“These actions will be implemented progressively in 2020 in parallel to the Taskforce finalising its report,” Minister Hunt said. “A final report will be delivered to the Council of Australian Government’s Health Council by the end of 2020.”

The Australian government has pledged $5 million to support the mission of the Taskforce, which includes establishing a National Dust Diseases Register and enhancing research to promote understanding, prevention and treatment of silicosis and other preventable occupational lung diseases.

If you think you have a silicosis or another chronic lung disease claim, your first step is to contact an experienced lawyer in the field. Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers have an excellent track record in dust disease, mesothelioma and asbestosis claims. Contact our expert team today on 1800 004 878 (free call) or online here.

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