The Australian Government is starting to address the silicosis risk associated with engineered stone. The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has said in a media release on January 23 2020 that the government will accept all five recommendations of the interim advice of the National Dust Disease Taskforce. However, some of these seem half-hearted and some actions will take a long time, which does not necessarily help those workers currently at risk.
The Guardian has a very good article (paywalled) about the use of facemasks to prevent exposure to bushfire smoke. The focus is on the fashion end of the personal protective equipment (PPE) so safety gets less attention. This article tries to fill some of those gaps.
The reader’s comments on online articles can be very revealing. Below is a discussion of some of the comments posted on The Australian website in response to an article about the accuracy of workplace fatality data in the mining industry. Given that this is one of the few mainstream media articles about occupational health and safety (OHS), they are telling.
One commenter asked the newspaper:
“… if one of your accountants based in the Sydney office were to have a car accident in Parramatta while driving to work in the morning, would you include that in your OHS statistics as a workplace fatality?”
Last week the Australian Government accepted the recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about improving the safety of quad bikes. But the improvement in safety came not through occupational health and safety (OHS) laws but the Australian Consumer Law so how could the ACL help improve workplace health and safety further? After a quick look at how the quad bike recommendations have been received, the potential of the ACL is considered in relation to silicosis.
Over the last week or so, as the Australian Parliament resumes operating, the Liberal/National Government is trying to reduce the influence of “militant” unions through its “Ensuring Integrity” Bill but opponents say this may affect the management of occupational health and safety (OHS).
The Federal Department of Health has established a National Dust Disease
Taskforce to develop a national approach to the prevention, early identification, control and management of dust diseases in Australia largely, it seems in response to silicosis but Black Lung had to have some influence.