President’s Message: Statement on Silicosis Prevention

This is my third statement on silicosis prevention, and I will continue to provide these updates for so long as we have:

  • 1 in 4 stone workers living with silicosis.
  • Almost 10,000 workers still at risk of lung cancer from exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS)
  • Another 100,000 workers still at risk of silicosis from RCS exposure (Carey,2022).

I believe Australia can and should do better at silicosis prevention, so here is my summary of the latest developments: –


  • In the US,  Los Angeles media  has reported on 30 silicosis cases diagnosed in stone benchtop workers since 2016.
  • In the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Synergist our submission to Safe Work Australia (SWA) on engineered stone has been described as a “bold approach consistent with the precautionary principle”.
  • At NZ and the UK conferences I presented on the context to that submission which sought to answer the question of what percentage silica in engineered stone should trigger prohibition or regulation of these products.

At home 

  • Professor Dino Pisanello and Dr Chandnee Ramkissoon’s webinar on the complexity of engineered stone emissions continues to attract visitors to the AIOH website and remains available here .
  • Also on our website  here  is the detailed work behind that SWA submission on the proposed  ban on engineered stone imports. Freely available for members, it will be helpful to those who want to research and establish their own view.
  • In the meantime, some worker representatives are wondering if  Action on silicosis has stalled  and Dr Ryan Hoy spoke to ABC radio about his  Concerns that screening methods aren’t picking up silicosis.
  • AIOH program Breathe Freely® successfully launched in Mandarin, bringing critical information on respiratory protection to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) workers. Hear all about it in this  Webinar, or listen to Kyle Goodwin this ex stone worker who has provided a compelling message about safety practices and respiratory protection here.
  • AIOH submission on  Tunnels under construction code of practice  extended our advocacy towards protect tunnelling workers at risk from RCS.
  • We also provided input into the proposal for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) to take on silica-related functions and published it here .
  • Lastly, Standards Australia have announced they are proposing to revise     AS 2985-2009, Workplace atmospheres – Method for sampling and gravimetric determination of respirable dust. This may prove helpful in the challenge to provide certainty when measuring RCS at the planned lowered  Workplace Exposure Standard of 0.025 mg/m3 (TWA).

In the meantime, thank you for all you do for worker health protection.
Tracey Bence
2023 AIOH President