The number of registered silicosis cases in Australia have been increasing tremendously. There has been an increase in the number of cases by 100 since September, summing up the total to approximately 350 cases.
Thousands of workers inhaled hazardous quantities of silica during the installation process in the last decade. A number of silicosis cases come from a leading dust disease. Dr Graeme Edwards said that before they were able to report on what is happening in various states of Australia like Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales. He said that the reporting process varies between jurisdictions, so it’s impossible to know the true scale of the problem as yet, but 350 is the best guess.
The growing number of cases also reveals how toxic silica exposure actually is. Dr Edwards said that pattern meant the silica in some engineered stone benchtops is knowingly more toxic than asbestos, but unlike with asbestos, there is a safe way to handle silica.
Regulation of the industry is in the process of being improved but has a long way to go, a national code of practice is being developed, but won’t be enacted before late 2020 at the earliest.