Mesothelioma in Australia May Peak in 2014

This prediction is contained in a new report the Safe Work Australia Council agreed to post at its first meeting earlier this month. The council also created a Strategic Issues Group to write the planned model OSH act.

The Safe Work Australia Council held its inaugural meeting in Sydney on June 10 and agreed to move ahead with the development of a model OHS act, forming a Strategic Issues Group and directing it to work on the bill immediately. The council also agreed to post a new report, "Mesothelioma in Australia: Incidence 1982 to 2005, Deaths 1997 to 2006," which predicts the incidence of mesothelioma will not peak until after 2010, possibly in 2014-2017, because of the long latency between asbestos exposure and diagnosis.

The report discusses how production, use, and control of asbestos have evolved in Australia and how workers' exposures to it varied among industries. There were 597 new cases diagnosed in 2005, an age-standardized rate of 2.8 per 100,000 Australians. In 1082, the earliest data available, 156 new cases and an age-standardized rate of 1.2 per 100,000 were recorded.

The next council meeting will take place Sept. 1. Tom Phillips, the council's chair, said its first meeting went well. "It is exciting to be a part of the important task of harmonizing occupational health and safety laws and improving workers' compensation arrangements across Australia," he said. "I am confident that the council, through its partnership of governments, employers, and employees, can work together to achieve improved health and safety outcomes for all Australians." The council has 15 members, including an independent chair, nine members representing the Commonwealth of Australia and each state and territory, two representing the interests of workers, two representing the interests of employers, and the group manager of Safe Work Australia, which is the executive agency that supports the council.

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