A new report commissioned by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency found that asbestos-related diseases cost Australia over half a billion dollars a year.
The report measured the medical and economic opportunity costs associated with asbestos-related diseases. The economic burden of asbestos-related disease by the Centre for International Economics, looked at the direct healthcare costs, as well as the cost of productivity and other losses resulting from time out of the workforce due to an asbestos-related disease in 2015.
It is estimated that hospital and primary care costs are at $192 million annually. Indirect costs arising from time out of the workforce are at $321 million per year. Eighty-five percent of cases were caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. In most cases, the costs arose due to premature death of a person.
This is the first time that the cost of asbestos-related disease had been quantified in Australia this way.
“We know of the terrible human toll of asbestos-related disease, which takes the lives of approximately 4,000 Australians each year,” said ASEA Chief Peter Tighe.
“And we know that it costs the Australian community at least half a billion dollars a year.
“Given the high cost of these avoidable diseases, it is very clear that our focus should be on the prevention of exposure to asbestos in Australia.
“This focus should include high profile community education and public information campaigns, and a clear plan for the permanent removal of all legacy asbestos in Australia’s built environment.
“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, and Australian workers and DIY home renovators will remain at risk until we take a proactive approach to eradication and remove asbestos from our community once and for all.”