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 following article is reproduced from the excellent academic communication website The Conversation, and is written by Elizabeth Shi, a Senior Lecturer, in RMIT University‘s Graduate School of Business and Law. The article is a very useful contribution to managing the risks of working in smokey environments but is only one contribution to a discussion on occupational health and safety in smokey workplaces that has many, many months to go.
Amid thick bushfire smoke in cities including Canberra and Melbourne, employers need to consider their legal obligations.
Some have directed their workers not to turn up in order to avoid to occupational health and safety risks. Among them is the Commonwealth department of home affairs which last week asked most of its staff to stay away from its Canberra headquarters for 48 hours. Other employers want to know where they stand.Continue reading “What employers need to know: the legal risk of asking staff to work in smokey air”
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.
Last year the Scientific Meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM) had a fiery discussion on the occupational health and safety (OHS) risks of cutting engineered stone. The status has changed a lot over 12 months with various Codes of Practice, new exposure limits, a National Dust Disease Taskforce and lobbying from Erin Brockovich. However the risk of worker exposure seems too have not changed this much because it is employers who are responsible for safe workplaces and there are many layers of OHS-related communication between research and practical application.
“Prima facie evidence of system failure. That’s what accelerated silicosis means. It is an entirely preventable disease.”