Kate's Fellowship focused on identifying best practice in delivering infrastructure, in particular major tunnelling projects, while preventing occupational illness and disease in the workforce.
Construction is a priority industry for work health and safety, with controlling exposures to disease-causing hazards identified as an area requiring improvement. In comparison to the general construction industry, however, tunnel construction workers have an increased risk of developing silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), adverse respiratory symptoms, double the rate of lung function decline than heavy smokers, asthma, general airflow limitation, and lung cancer, and thus represent a high-risk work group. Australian tunnelling has reached a new chapter, planning to tunnel further in the next seven years than we have in more than the past two decades. Tunnel construction represents a vital part of building Australia's necessary infrastructure and services and is complimented by world-class feats of engineering. However, the delivery of such world class infrastructure should not be at the expense of the health of thousands of workers who will support these great projects.
Kate's Fellowship taught her to look more broadly when searching for answers to challenging problems, and that the solution may be in a multi-disciplined approach via collaboration through many stakeholders—some of which may be outside her direct industry.
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