Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

ARE you one of the 600,000 Aus­tralians ex­posed to sil­ica dust at work?

As we mark Na­tional Safe Work Month, Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land would like to call for in­creased aware­ness of can­cer-caus­ing agents in the work­place, in­clud­ing an un­seen can­cer risk – sil­ica dust.

Sil­ica dust is a fine dust that can be found in some stone, rock, sand, gravel and clay – as well as bricks, tiles, con­crete and some plas­tic ma­te­ri­als.

When these ma­te­ri­als are worked on or cut, sil­ica is re­leased as a fine dust that’s 100 times smaller than a grain of sand.

It’s so small you can’t see it – but if you breathe it in, in some cases it can lead to lung can­cer.

We es­ti­mate that sil­ica dust is caus­ing more than 230 lung can­cer cases each year across the coun­try.

These are can­cer cases that could have eas­ily been pre­vented through dust preven­tion or con­trol, ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion or per­sonal res­pi­ra­tory pro­tec­tion.

Min­ers, con­struc­tion work­ers, en­gi­neers and agri­cul­ture work­ers are just some of the in­dus­tries where work­ers could be ex­posed to sil­ica dust at work.

The theme for this year’s Na­tional Safe Work Month is, ‘A mo­ment is all it takes’.

This is im­por­tant be­cause a mo­ment’s fore­thought can pre­vent harm.

It’s crit­i­cal that both em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees are aware of all can­cer­caus­ing haz­ards and be­hav­iours in the work­place, as putting in place con­trol mea­sures can help re­duce can­cer risk.

When it comes to sil­ica, proper pro­tec­tion is a lot more than just wear­ing a dust mask.

It in­cludes on-site ven­ti­la­tion, us­ing spe­cialised tools with ap­pro­pri­ate blades and dust sup­pres­sion fea­tures and a range of other im­por­tant safe­guards.

If you or some­one you em­ploy are reg­u­larly de­mol­ish­ing ma­te­ri­als, sand­cast­ing, sand­blast­ing, brick­lay­ing or cut­ting stone, tiles or bricks, you need to get in­formed about sil­ica dust now.

If Queens­lan­ders are con­cerned about sil­ica or other pos­si­ble can­cer-caus­ing agents in their work­place, we in­vite them to con­tact Can­cer Coun­cil’s 13 11 20 or sign up to our free can­cer preven­tion pro­gram QUEST via

CHRIS McMIL­LAN, CEO, Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land.

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