Report on Stonemasons finds almost 30% have Silicosis

Victorian Silicosis Report on Stonemasons finds almost 30% have Silicosis

The Final report of the Victorian Phase 1: Silica associated lung disease health screening research project which includes the Stonemasons’ screening project & the Silica-associated disease registry, has been released with staggering findings. The report was prepared by Monash University in collaboration with WorkSafe Victoria.

Overall, as of July 2020, 456 workers agreed to take part in the screening project and/or the disease registry. Among these 456 workers, 133 (29%) cases of silicosis were identified. Of the 133 workers with a diagnosis 102 had simple silicosis and 31 had more severe, complicated silicosis. The median age of workers at the time of assessment was 36 years of age.

The study found that the reported use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) has increased slightly, however many workers reported ceasing RPE use after wet cutting processes were implemented. Opening a window/door and ventilation in the ceiling were the most common types of ventilation reported, which is unlikely to be effective in removing dust from the worker’s breathing zone.  In summary, this research has found a large burden of silica-associated disease in stonemasons working with artificial stone and demonstrated the need for ongoing screening of these workers and further research into the most effective screening methods to be used. These findings are also likely to have implications for silica-exposed workers in other industry sectors.

Key findings

  • Of the 324 workers in the stonemasons’ screening project 254 (78%) were referred for further follow-up.
  • There were 211 (65%) workers who had clinical abnormalities (abnormal chest x-ray, and/or abnormal lung function, and/or significantly respiratory, other symptoms or signs).
  • Of the workers who were referred for further follow-up 59 (26%) have a current silicosis diagnosis and 26 (11%) have possible silicosis.

Download the report here.