Silent silicosis epidemic killing young tradies

I ended up in stonemasonry by chance. I went for an interview as a boat mechanic but the employment agency said, “You’ve got a bit of background in rural life (I grew up working at the Mullumbimby co-op selling fertilisers and that kind of thing) — would you be interested in stonemasonry?”

I said, sure, I’ll have a crack, and I enjoyed it. The hands-on approach and the accuracy — cutting kitchen benchtops isn’t like working with wood. You can’t add anything to it. You have to be precise, your skills have to be there, and my skills were there, and I honed those skills and got very good at that job.

There was a lot of work. Everyone from young renovators to big developers wanted stone benchtops in their kitchens — still do.

The dust was heavy, it was thick, and it was everywhere. My car seat and my couch, if you hit them there would be a cloud of dust. It followed you everywhere. It was so fine you couldn’t get away from it.

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