SafeWork Australia has announced a new campaign related to occupational lung diseases. The campaign, entitled ‘Clean Air. Clear Lungs’, focuses on less known and often unseen risks to the health of workers’ lungs in a variety of working environments.
The knowledge of the workplace risk of developing lung diseases has increased in recent years. While we have for many years understood that asbestos and coal dust can cause serious disease for workers who are exposed to them, there are many other risks to lung disease that workers might be exposed to.
The campaign aims to target the construction, manufacturing, agricultural and engineered stone industries to provide information about different hazards that workers might face which can cause occupational lung diseases. Some of the hazards identified by the campaign include dust dusts, gases, fumes, vapours, mists and microorganisms that are in the air as a result of common workplace practices in those industries, such as welding, sawing, and the use of chemicals or pesticides.
Under work health and safety law, businesses have an obligation to identify and assess hazards, eliminate or minimise risks, and monitor and review their safety practices and compliance. SafeWork Australia has developed a model code of practice for managing the risks of hazardous chemical, one of the key sources of risks to lung health in the workplace. It has also developed ‘workplace exposure standards’ for various different chemical and non-chemical substances that might cause lung disease. It is important that all businesses are aware of the levels of risk associated with the work they are undertaking and implement work practices to eliminate or reduce those risks.