Safe Work Australia warns of occupational lung disease risks

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 8 November, 2021 - 12:45
Policy & legislation
National News

Safe Work Australia recently launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of occupational lung disease to protect workers from breathing in hazardous air.

The national campaign seeks to educate persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), such as employers or small business owners, on how to eliminate or manage the risk of their workers developing an occupational lung disease.

The campaign will run until December and includes information on how to identify and assess hazards, how to manage and control risks and how to monitor the workplace.

“Not all hazards in the workplace are visible. It’s important to identify if your work processes are creating hazards such as dusts, gases, fumes or vapours, that if inhaled can cause lung disease,” said Safe Work Australia CEO Michelle Baxter. 

“Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure the health and safety of their workers – this includes protecting their lungs.”

Safe Work Australia is providing PCBUs with information on how to eliminate or manage these work health and safety risks as part of their risk management process.

“This is not a one-off – all control measures need to be reviewed regularly to make sure they are still working and controlling the risk," said Baxter.

The campaign targets four high-risk industries:

·       Manufacturing: workers can be exposed to hazards in the air that are invisible to the naked eye, such as fumes and dust.

·       Construction: workers can be exposed to hazards like dust from concrete and fumes from welding.

·       Engineered stone: workers can be exposed to silica dust in all parts of their work process – from preparing and working on the slab, to cleaning up the workplace and disposing of waste.

·       Agriculture: workers can be exposed to a range of hazards in the air, such as pesticides, chemicals, and fuels