LOOK AFTER YOURSELF: Shannon Lamb, director of Kev's Construction Supplies wants everyone to be safe around silicosis.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF: Shannon Lamb, director of Kev's Construction Supplies wants everyone to be safe around silicosis. Jann Houley

Rocky construction business blowing dust off safety measures

A GROUP of construction workers left a building site one day, covered in asbestos.

They left the house, exited the gate and pulled their eskies out of their vehicles.

Then they pulled down their masks and pulled off their gloves and began eating their lunch.

This is a recent example of a high risk activity at an unnamed work site, but for Kev's Construction Supplies director Shannon Lamb, this is a perfect example about the lack of information out there about air borne disease Workplace Health and Safety (WHS).

Despite having used the minimum required safety measures on site, these workers were not completely safe from the risk of air-borne asbestos as the consequential disease of asbestosis.

They were covered in the dangerous dust and would soon jump in their car, covering their seats with it and then throw their clothes in the wash with their children's school clothes.

"I've got three kids, and you do start thinking of your own mortality,” Mr Lamb said.

"It may never get you. Asbestos may sit in your lungs and never do anything, or if you're unlucky, you may get asbestosis.”

Mr Lamb's father worked as a carpenter by trade and 25 years ago started the "mini Bunnings” business.

When he was diagnosed with a spot on his lungs, the first thing to come out of his son's mouth was "is it asbestosis?”

It was lung cancer and because doctors found it in the early stages, they were able to treat it successfully.

However, the scare also gave Mr Lamb more reason to take safety around airborne dusts seriously.

"A lot of the factors we see with customers and tradies is purely a cost issue,” he said.

"They're coming in and going 'I can't believe how much it will cost us to get up to speed with all this'.

"It's a health thing. You may have been sucking in fibre cement dust for 25 years, but you don't have to suck it in for the next 20.

"We explain the research we've done. Getting informed costs nothing.

"We are not the be-all-and-end-all of expertise. It's just a passion for us.”

Mr Lamb said he was concerned about the information people were sourcing to make an informed decision surrounding work safety.

"We're a very information based company. People are buying products without being informed correctly,” he said.

"We do research with this stuff. There's a lot of information and people out there with the knowledge.

"Silicosis has been out there for ages but it's only really been hammered into the trade industry in January.

"We spent weeks doing research and reading heaps of documents and got WHS people out to the shop before we went to market or spoke to tradies.”

Mr Lamb said an example of lack of information was tradesmen not choosing the correct vacuum to suit a work site's circumstances and operational needs.

As well as providing the correct equipment for each job, Kev's Construction Supplies will also be offering proper face mask selection and fitting.

"We tracked down two infectious disease nurses and this falls under their scope of work,” Mr Lamb said.

"They deal with air borne disease and they will fit your masks for you.

"We're trying to determine what's needed in this industry to better serve you and we source the product to do that.

"It's about asking the right questions when trying to determine what they're doing to protect their workers.”

For those wanting to provide the very best for their workers, Mr Lamb encouraged them to come into the store and get a tailor-made approach to safety.

Kev's Construction Supplies is located at 92 Hollingsworth St, Kawana.

Silicosis:

  • Crystalline silica (silicon dioxide) (silica) is found in sand, stone, concrete and mortar.
  • It is also used to make a variety of products including composite stone used to fabricate kitchen and bathroom benchtops, bricks, tiles and some plastics.
  • When workers cut, crush, drill, polish, saw or grind products that contain silica, dust particles are generated that are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and cause illness or disease including silicosis.


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