Man diagnosed with silicosis after just two years on the job
WHEN Bundaberg man Trevor started work crushing rocks, retirement with an oxygen bottle is the last thing he expected.
Since he was diagnosed with silicosis, Trevor is promoting the use of appropriate personal protective equipment for people working mines and quarries.
After two years in the industry, Trevor said his life has had changed dramatically.
"I can't go anywhere without an oxygen bottle," he said.
"Can't go for a walk along the beach."
He said there needed to be appropriate protective masks available and workers needed to be educated with signs around the workplace.
Using a paper mask, in Trevor's experience, would not suffice as it collected the dust and he couldn't breathe.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers said Trevor, 70, received the diagnosis of severe and advanced lung disease, suggestive of silicosis - a form of pneumoconiosis from silica dust, in February and recently settled a WorkCover claim against his former employer.
Asbestos Lawyer Neil Green said it was important for everyone to know that even a short period of exposure to the dust could have huge consequences on a person's life and emphasised the need for workplaces to take responsibility to ensure workers were safe.
"This is a man who only started working in the mine at 55 and would never work a day after age 57 due to his breathing problems caused by working at the quarry," he said.
"No one sat him down and said 'your breathing problems might be due to the silica dust you were inhaling while wearing no protective gear'.
"He went on a disability pension and stayed on it until he found a GP that sent him for a scan. Trevor never would have put his own life at risk if he knew it was destroying his lungs."
He hopes with the State Government's rolled out improvements, there would be more information reaching workers.
A Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy spokesperson said the health and safety of workers was paramount.
"Under Queensland law, mineral mines and quarries must ensure their workers are educated on the potential risk of dust and respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure, as well as the relevant control measures that prevent or minimise exposure," the spokesperson said.
"Employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) that meets national safety standards including suitable respiratory protection and ensure workers are trained to properly use this type of PPE.
"Education and PPE are vital, but the most effective way to reduce the risk is by limiting the exposure to dust in the first place and having strict exposure limits and engineering methods designed to address the source of dust emissions."
The spokesperson said the government was working towards reducing the occupational exposure dust limit for RCS in line with Safe Work Australia recommendations.