I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Anthony White who worked in the engineered stone industry and suffered from an advanced stage of silicosis.
On behalf of the Government, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.
Even in the face of immense personal tragedy, Mr White showed incredible bravery in highlighting the deadly consequences of prolonged and unsafe exposure to silica dust.
Mr White had an accepted WorkCover claim and WorkCover has reached out to his family to offer condolences and support.
I’m advised Mr White is the first Queensland worker from the engineered stone industry with this illness to have passed away.
We owe it to all victims and families who are impacted by work-related deaths to do everything possible to prevent further tragedies and ensure that employers meet their obligations to provide safe workplaces.
The Palaszczuk Government’s response to silicosis:
After receiving advice from my Department on the troubling spike in silicosis cases last year, I acted immediately and issued a public warning and an industry alert confirming the banning of dry cutting.
Engineered stone industry workers and their families can be assured that we’re doing all we can to support workers diagnosed with this disease.
Worker safety is paramount, and all workers deserve to return home safely to their loved ones at the end of a day’s work.
Queensland is leading the way in responding to the threat of silicosis.
Since the first urgent safety warning was issued on 18 September 2018, we have:
- undertaken audits of all 138 known engineered stone benchtop fabricators in Queensland;
- arranged for free health screening of 810 workers in the engineered stone benchtop industry with estimated cost of $3 to $4 million;
- hosted two forums in relation silicosis on 9 November 2018 – a medical forum with discussion facilitated by leading international expert Professor Robert Cohen and national expert Dr Ryan Hoy.
- held an industry forum for employers and workers within the engineered stone benchtop industry attracted over 130 attendees; and
- established an expert medical working group which held its first meeting last week
- ensured the issue of silicosis is on the national agenda.
A free counselling service can be accessed by workers who are diagnosed with silicosis. If workers or family member would like to access these services, they should contact WorkCover for a referral.
Any worker worried about their exposure to silica dust should see their doctor and contact WorkCover on 1300 362 128 to arrange a health screen.
Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
The Honourable Grace Grace