A popular manufactured quartz benchtop surface material for kitchens and bathrooms may be banned in Australia due silica dust causing lung disease in workers. The material was manufactured by Caesarstone, a company that was refused insurance cover because of the silica presence. Increasing numbers of the business’ workers have now been diagnosed with dust disease connected to this product.
The silica dust was generated in workplace mechanical processes, and has earned the moniker “new asbestos” due to its role in many cases of silicosis. Hundreds have now prepared to file a class-action lawsuit against several stone bench companies – including Gold Coast resident Mr. Downs, aged 22, who is currently the youngest person in Australia to be diagnosed with silicosis. Doctors informed the young man he would not be able to go back to work at the wet-cut workplace, where dust was pervasive.
Gold Coast former stonemason Mr. Parata and his brother, Mr. White, also suffered from silicosis. White, who died in 2017, is believed to be the first tradesman to die from dust from engineered stone – after experts warned about it.
Queenslander Mr. Goldby was just 15 years old when he started work cutting artificial stone benchtops, and has now also been diagnosed with silicosis. Still only 28, he now regularly struggles to breathe. He had secured employment at Caesarstone for his brother and friends, and now wishes he had not.
The managing director of the company claimed that Caesarstone’s flagship product is completely safe if handled correctly. But due to the silicosis cases, the business had to be “self-insured” in regard to product liability. He added that the company will “advise the Parliamentary committee that it does have insurance and will meet any financial payment [requirement] determined by Australian courts.”
However, the company claims not to be at fault, instead blaming individual fabricators who purchased the raw material and then used it in their own factories, cutting the material to size. It says the danger comes from improperly trained workers and vendors who don’t monitor usage of the product to ensure it is being handled correctly.
There are concerns that in addition to the potentially underinsured liability of the company, that the organisation may choose to attempt to file bankruptcy as did James Hardie in the past when confronted with a class action suit for asbestos exposures.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with silicosis after being exposed to the dust from stone bench top manufacture, contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for a free consultation.