The health crisis affecting workers

The challenge – occupational lung disease

Trade industries have laid the foundation for cities and towns for many generations, and at the heart of this are people. For some, however, that work has come at a terrible cost to their wellbeing.

Thousands of Australian tradespeople have been diagnosed with an occupational lung disease that impacts their quality of life and the length of it. We need to change the prognosis for them.

In recent times, prevention has been the primary focus for managing occupational lung disease. But what about the people who already have the incurable lung disease?

The Tradie Health Institute is committed to tackling a number of occupational lung diseases, with an initial focus on silicosis.

Meet Daniel

Daniel, 44, is a loving husband and father of four who was recently diagnosed with silicosis. Fortunately for Daniel, it was identified early during a routine medical check-up. The early diagnosis meant he was a candidate for a Whole Lung Lavage trial being carried out at The Prince Charles Hospital and supported by The Common Good.

While I’m still not quite sure what the future holds for me, I’m so grateful that my silicosis was found early, giving me the chance to be part of this trial. It’s offered a wave of relief, and I feel like I can focus a bit more on my family again – instead of focusing on a lung disease that could take a stranglehold of our lives.


Caused by inhalation of silica via sand, glass, concrete, engineered stone, tiles and more.


Disease has a long latency period (circa 20 years) before diagnosis.

It is estimated that 4,000 Australians die each year from asbestos related diseases.

Black Lung

Caused by exposure to coal dust.

10 years ago, 25,000 deaths globally were attributed to black lung and sadly this number continues to climb.

What is silicosis?

Silicosis is a severe, progressive dust-related lung disease caused by inhaling toxic silica dust such as that from sand, glass, concrete, engineered stone, tiles and other silica-based materials. Silicosis can impact workers across many industries including construction, mining, manufacturing and agriculture – meaning there are so many at risk.

When inhaled, the silica dust settles in the lungs, and the immune system can go into overdrive, causing inflammation and scarring (fibrosis). This means the lungs can’t function properly and the person cannot breathe. Over time, the lungs are destroyed by tiny, toxic dust particles.

The level of exposure and length of time a person is exposed will impact the severity of their silicosis diagnosis. For some the symptoms may be mild, and for others it can have devastating impacts on the quality and length of their life.

There is currently no cure for silicosis.

We can’t do this alone

Join us in protecting the health of our tradies.

Get involved

The Common Good acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Land upon which we live, work and walk, and pay our respects to Elders both past and present.