The Ministry, WorkSafe, and ACC have been working collaboratively with health professionals in the national Dust Diseases Taskforce to understand and respond to the emerging risk to engineered stone workers of exposure to respiratory crystalline silica (RCS). RCS can cause accelerated silicosis, a potentially serious lung disease. This has been seen overseas in those working with artificial or engineered stone found in composite benchtops used in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.
If workers are at risk of developing disease due to exposure to RCS, they can go through a pathway for assessment, diagnosis and support. Further information is available on the Ministry’s website including information for patients.
Last week, WorkSafe inspectors began visiting businesses and workers known to work with engineered stone. An estimated 530 people are currently working with engineered stone in New Zealand. WorkSafe will undertake a phased approach to visiting workplaces to manage the number of people accessing health assessments in a coordinated way. They will be encouraging people who have worked with engineered stone for at least six months in the last 10 years to visit their GP for assessment. ACC will assess a person if they meet the accelerated silicosis exposure threshold and ACC eligibility criteria.