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WA amendments to assist early detection of silicosis

early detection of silicosis

The Western Australia Government has made an important change to the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 that will increase protections for workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica in the engineered stone industry.

As from 15th January, with a three-month grace period, employers will be required to provide a low-dose high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan, supervised by an appointed medical practitioner, instead of the previously required chest X-ray.

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HRCT scans are superior to chest X-rays and will assist in the early detection of silicosis.

Silicosis is a serious and potentially lethal occupational lung disease caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica in industries such as engineered stone product manufacturing, installation, stonemasonry and construction work.

The amendment will assist in the early detection of silicosis and follows the Western Australia Government’s recent decision to halve the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica to further protect workers.

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said, “the safety and health of WA workers is a key priority for the Western Australia Government; this amendment to workplace safety laws will assist in the early detection or prevention of this disease.”

“The low-dose high-resolution CT scan coupled with the recent halving of the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica, will be of great assistance in improving health outcomes for workers exposed to silica.”

“There has been much concern about the number of silicosis cases in the Eastern States and, although we have seen relatively few cases in WA, it’s appropriate we take action to minimise the risks for workers.”

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AMSJ Nov 2021