A permanently disabling and potentially deadly lung disease has returned to Australian workplaces due to falling work safety standards and attacks on union rights of entry. A series of new cases of silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust, have been diagnosed in workers in the manufactured stone industry.
The re-emergence of relatively forgotten industrial diseases, including silicosis and black lung disease in Queensland coal mines, has alarmed Australian health professionals.
A NSW parliamentary inquiry this week heard people are now being diagnosed with potentially life-threatening silicosis, linked to newer engineered stone products increasingly used for kitchen and bathroom benchtops.
Now aged 49, Mr Parmangos is on oxygen and rarely leaves his house in Port Macquarie. His hands are clubbed and he has frequent stays in intensive care because of “non-stop lung infections and pneumonias” as a result of his failing immune system.
“We didn’t even know what silica was till I got sick,” he said.
“Being young, you always thought you are young and healthy and nothing is going to happen to us.”