On Tuesday 8 September, the College hosted a webinar on accelerated silicosis, an emerging disease that can affect those working with engineered stone. This condition has only come to light in the past few years – it was first noticed in Queensland in 2017. Since 2019 WorkSafe, ACC and the Ministry of Health have been working together to find and assess exposed workers. Over the coming months WorkSafe will be encouraging at-risk workers to visit their GP for a health check.
What’s known is that more than half the workforce using this product are based in Auckland.
“This is a condition we all need to be aware of, it’s incredibly fast moving and debilitating, and due to the demographic that works with engineered material its often young men who are most at risk”, says College Medical Director Dr Bryan Betty.
“If you have patients who work with this material, this could be a real risk. There are often few symptoms in the early stages, but this is a very serious disease as silicosis can result in autoimmune deficiencies as well as lung conditions.”
College Fellow Dr Graham McGeoch has been a key contributor to the development and promotion of a Silica Exposure HealthPathway stream, which we encourage all members to review. The Regionalised processes for Canterbury are live, but other areas need development. Visit HealthPathways and search for ‘stone’ to see what resources are available in your area.
Members are encouraged to watch the webinar which includes case studies, along with diagnostic and treatment management advice from occupational and respiratory physicians.
Accelerated silicosis resources