Victorian stonemasons at risk of silicosis will be able to get free world-class health screenings and treatments thanks to a landmark partnership between WorkSafe and The Alfred.
Minister for Workplace Safety, Ingrid Stitt, today announced Australia’s only dedicated public hospital occupational respiratory clinic, The Alfred Occupational Respiratory Clinic.
For the first time, eligible workers in the stonemason industry can now undergo a full health assessment for silicosis and receive both their health outcome and a treatment plan during a one-day clinic visit. This will reduce time oﬀ work and take away much of the stress and anxiety of waiting for results.
The clinic builds on the work of WorkSafe’s free silica health screening program, which was launched in May 2019 as part of the Victorian Government’s comprehensive plan to protect workers from exposure to crystalline silica and provide ongoing care to those affected.
More than 90 per cent of Victoria’s estimated 1,400 past and present stonemasons have since registered for screening. While reaching this registration milestone is an achievement, tragically there have been 168 claims to WorkSafe following positive diagnoses for silicosis.
A fast-tracked compensation process is in place for affected workers and their families so they can get the personalised treatment and support they need.
The clinic will provide a central location for assessments of eligible workers in the stonemason industry and an ongoing centre for those with a positive diagnosis to manage their illness.
Stonemasons are at a particularly high risk of silicosis due to working with engineered stone which contains high concentrations of crystalline silica.
Minister for Workplace Safety, Ingrid Stitt, said: “Silicosis has had a debilitating effect on too many tradespersons – this partnership will mean many people facing this horrible disease will be able to get the care and support they deserve from a dedicated team of health professionals.”
WorkSafe Chief Executive Officer, Colin Radford, also commented: “Silica health screening and treatment is often a stressful experience for workers and their families, which is why having a centralised clinic to manage their health journey will make such a difference.”
Victorian employers must do everything they can to control the risks associated with crystalline silica in their workplace, including by providing health monitoring for workers if exposure to crystalline silica is likely to have an adverse effect on their health.
To confirm eligibility and book an appointment at the Alfred Occupational Respiratory Clinic, call WorkSafe’s Silica Advisors on 1800 136 089 (option 1 then option 3) for a referral.