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Prevalence and risk factors for silicosis among a large cohort of stone benchtop industry workers
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  • Published on:
    Are we underestimating the prevalence of silicosis in the stone benchtop industry in New South Wales, Australia?
    • Kate F Cole, Occupational Hygienist Cole Health Pty Ltd
    • Other Contributors:
      • Deborah H Yates, Respiratory Physician
      • Maggie Davidson, Occupational Hygienist

    This study reports an alarming prevalence of silicosis in Victoria, Australia at 28.2% among workers in the stone benchtop industry (SBI). [1] That prevalence is higher than reported in SBI workers in another Australian state of Queensland (22.7%). [4] The Victorian silicosis screening program reported respiratory function tests and chest x-rays to be of limited value in screening this high-risk population which has significant implications for health and safety policy. It also calls into question the adequacy of current screening programs in other Australian States and Territories.

    In the adjoining state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, there has been an obligation on the health and safety regulator (SafeWork NSW) to maintain a Dust Diseases Register and to provide a report on the Register at the end of each financial year since October 2020. This information is provided and published in the NSW Dust Disease Register Annual Report. However, no information is provided on the total number of workers screened (or the denominator) to enable understanding of the incidence and prevalence of silicosis in NSW.

    A desk-based “case finding” study from May 2021 in NSW estimated the average incidence (new cases) of silicosis among engineered stone workers in NSW at between 4% and 9% for the three-year reporting period, and suggested that incidence values may also be considered as the estimated prevalence within SBI workers. [3] This prevalence estimate is significant...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.