About accelerated silicosis
Accelerated silicosis is a type of lung disease which may develop after a worker has been exposed to large amounts of silica dust.
Crystalline silica is a natural substance found in concrete, bricks, rocks, sand, clay and stone. It’s also in artificial or engineered stone used to make benchtops for kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.
Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust is created when materials containing crystalline silica are cut or otherwise disturbed. These particles are extremely small and can be breathed in, potentially damaging the lungs.
The Ministry of Health is working with WorkSafe and ACC to identify and assess workers in New Zealand who may be at risk of accelerated silicosis.
Information for workers
Accelerated silicosis is a serious disease which may affect people who work with engineered stone.
It can take up to 10 years to show symptoms after exposure to crystalline silica dust, and can be difficult for health professionals to spot.
If you have worked with engineered stone for more than six months in the last 10 years, you should visit your GP to be assessed for exposure to silica dust.
On your initial visit to your GP, they will assess you and ask some questions about your work and health. It’s important to tell them how long you’ve worked with engineered stone over the last 10 years.
If your current or previous workplaces have monitored your health in the past, it’s important to get these records and take them with you to your GP if you think you may be affected. Your employer is required to give you a copy of your health information if requested.
If your GP decides you may be at risk of developing accelerated silicosis, they will give you information and advice about the next steps.
The next steps are likely to include assessment by ACC to determine what financial assistance is available for any tests or support.
If you are eligible to receive public health care in New Zealand, but your exposure has occurred overseas and/or you might not be covered by ACC, your GP will consider a referral to a respiratory physician for further assessment.
For more information about the assessment process, download:
Preventing accelerated silicosis
It's important for people working with engineered stone to understand the steps they can take to protect themselves.
There is information about safe practices for working with engineered stone on the WorkSafe website:
Respirable Crystalline Silica
An assessment pathway has been developed for health professionals to help assess and diagnose accelerated silicosis.
Support if you have accelerated silicosis from working with engineered stone in a New Zealand workplace.