asbestos-related_disease_indicators.doc

Currently the main source of exposure to asbestos

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Currently, the main source of exposure to asbestos fibres are old buildings undergoing renovation or demolition where building maintenance and demolition workers are employed. This is an outcome of the heavy reliance on asbestos products in buildings during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s (NOHS C 2005) . Asbestos containing materials were used as thermal insulation for pipes, ducts in buildings, plant and furnaces, ceilings and wall cavities. Asbestos cement sheets and roofing were also used extensively. Occupations The burden of asbestos-related disease on occupations associated with asbestos mining in Australia should diminish in the longer term because of the cessation of asbestos mining in 1983. However, the widespread use of asbestos in construction and manufacturing during the post-war decades may mean there will be more, as yet undiagnosed, cases of asbestos-related diseases among workers from these two industries. The Australian Mesothelioma Register, which operated from 1986 to 2007, collected and monitored data on the number of new cases of mesothelioma and past exposure to asbestos. The Register’s data shows that in the past workers who had the highest rates of mesothelioma were those who had worked in occupations associated with asbestos mining or dust forming operations such as handling, sawing, sanding, grinding, drilling, turning or general maintenance and renovation. Specific occupations recording high numbers of workers exposed included: carpenters & joiners; Wittenoom workers; builders & builders’ labourers; navy & merchant navy workers; railway workers; boiler makers (cleaners, attendants, installers & welders); and power station workers. The National Dataset for Compensation Based Statistics (NDS) contains information from 2000–01 onwards (2007–08 are preliminary data) on workers’ compensation claims that involve work-related disease. The NDS data shows that occupation groups with higher than average rates of workers’ compensation claims for mesothelioma over the three-year period 2005–06 to 2007–08p included; Power 1 ... Safe Work Australia
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generation plant operators; Carpentry and joinery tradespersons; Communications tradespersons; Metal fitters and machinists; Electricians; and Plumbers. For asbestosis, the occupation groups with higher than average rates of workers’ compensation claims over the same three-year period included Railway labourers; Freight & furniture handlers (includes Stevedores); Bricklayers, Painters & decorators; and Carpentry & joinery tradespersons. Half of all asbestosis claims were made by workers in the manufacturing industry, of these 70% were Labourers & related workers. Onset of asbestos-related disease Extent of exposure Asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases usually only occur following lengthy periods of exposure to high levels of asbestos fibres; mesothelioma, on the other hand, can develop from short or lengthy periods of low or high concentrations of asbestos, although exposure to asbestos fibres does not make the development of the disease inevitable.
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