Victorian workers at risk of silicosis can now access free health screening at Australia's only dedicated public hospital occupational respiratory clinic.
Published:16 September 2021
WorkSafe has partnered with The Alfred to establish The Alfred Occupational Respiratory Clinic, where eligible workers from the stonemason industry can undergo a comprehensive health assessment and receive a diagnosis on the same day.
Importantly, workers will leave the clinic with their health outcome and a management plan, reducing much of the stress associated with waiting for a diagnosis.
More than 990 workers in Victoria's stonemason industry have completed an initial assessment with WorkSafe's free silica health screening program since it commenced in May 2019.
Tragically, there have so far been 168 worker's compensation claims resulting from a positive diagnosis, and a process is in place to ensure affected workers and their families get the support they need.
The important work already undertaken by WorkSafe, physicians and other health care providers will ensure the new clinic continues to offer Victorian stonemasons best practice care for diagnosis and management of silicosis.
WorkSafe Chief Executive Officer Colin Radford said workers in the stonemason industry can often be reluctant to access health assessments due to the potential impacts of a diagnosis.
"Getting tested can be a traumatic experience for workers and their families, but it's so important to diagnose any sign of this debilitating lung disease as early as possible," Mr Radford said.
"This new centralised clinic will make the screening process as simple as possible by minimising appointments and ensuring affected workers are immediately provided with a comprehensive treatment plan."
The Alfred respiratory physician and member of WorkSafe's silica stakeholder reference group Dr Ryan Hoy said the hospital has a long history of providing outstanding respiratory care and understanding emerging trends.
"The clinic will provide a multi-disciplinary approach to the diagnosis and management of occupational silicosis by utilising many of The Alfred's existing services and allied health services as required," Dr Hoy said.
"By providing ongoing care and review of patients, we will be able to monitor any disease progression and provide required intervention as early as possible to improve long-term health outcomes."
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.