Posted on 30 May 2019
Slater and Gordon is preparing a national class action against the manufacturers of popular kitchen stone benchtops after the products led to thousands of stonemasons contracting potentially fatal lung disease.
Thousands of stonemasons from across Australia have likely been exposed to a potentially fatal disease from the manufacture of a popular kitchen and bathroom bench top found in many Australian homes.
Slater and Gordon has experienced a surge in the number of workers approaching the firm after being involved in the manufacture of artificial stone bench tops, and who have been affected by silicosis – an incurable lung disease caused by inhaling hazardous silica dust found in stone bench top materials.
Even seemingly quite brief exposures to silica can involve significant levels of exposure to silica dust; stonemasons cutting and installing the engineered stone products without proper equipment will inhale the dangerous dust particles.
Silica has been proven to cause lung cancer, scleroderma and other autoimmune diseases.
The bench tops do not present a hazardous risk to the general public once they have been installed.
Slater and Gordon Practice Group Leader Margaret Kent said the major stone bench top suppliers – Caesarstone, Quantum Quartz and Smartstone – did not adequately communicate the severe safety risks in relation to their products, nor did they adequately convey the necessary safety precautions around its handling.
“Under Australian law the responsibility for harm caused in these circumstances rightly falls on the manufacturers involved. The extreme levels of harm caused by dust from stone bench-top products in Australia can be traced back to a small number of manufacturers,” Ms Kent said.
“It is a tragedy that so many people have, or will, become grievously ill just by going to work.
“This class action will seek to ensure that the manufacturers are held to account for the harms their products have caused.
“Silica is being described by physicians as the ‘new asbestos’. It is outrageous that a product is legally allowed to be used and sold when it when it poses such a severe risk to workers.”
Brunswick 29-year-old Joel Goldby has been diagnosed with silicosis following exposure to silica dust during his 12 years working as a stonemason.
“I had a shortness of breath and assumed it was everyday life or something that happens when you get older,” Mr Goldby said.
“I had never even heard about it and we never really spoke about it at work; we really didn’t know the danger involved.
“My mum pushed me to go to the doctor after my older brother got diagnosed.
“When I finally got the test done, the scan showed numerous nodules ranging from 1-5mms across both lungs.”
Ms Kent said the class action approach was intended to supplement existing workers’ compensation entitlements.
“It is important for all workers who have been injured in any way by silica to be aware of the workers compensation entitlements they may be able to access – anyone affected should make contact with the firm as soon as possible to obtain advice, in addition to registering their interest concerning the class action if they wish to do so,” Ms Kent said.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is uniquely placed to assist workers who have been exposed to silica dust, with expert teams with decades-long experience in workers compensation, dust diseases litigation and personal injury class actions under the one roof.
Affected workers can contact the firm on 1800 555 777 or by going to slatergordon.com.au/silica-class-action to register for the class action and get in contact with a workers’ compensation lawyer who can provide advice about existing entitlements.
Media Contact Therese Allaoui (03) 9602 6844 / 0428 994 937