What is silicosis? A ticking time bomb for workers

05/02/2019

Recent media articles have put the spotlight on silicosis - a serious lung disease that is affecting workers like stonemasons.

What is silicosis?

Sometimes referred to as the oldest occupational disease, a new generation of tradies are falling victim to this deadly dust.

Silicosis occurs when tiny silica particles are inhaled and become trapped in the lungs. This results in inflammation and scarring inside the lungs.

Intense exposure has been linked to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney disease and scleroderma.

There are obvious comparisons between the asbestos legacy that still plagues Australia, and this new surge of silicosis victims. The similarities are striking - an incurable lung diseases that attacks workers who should have been provided with a safe workplace and proper protections.

Who is affected?

We are typically seeing young stonemasons, working with reconstituted stone products used for kitchen and bathroom benches.

Stonemasons report dry cutting and polishing of reconstituted stone products, often in enclosed, dusty workshops. These products have grown in popularity in recent years, as a more affordable alternative to granite and marble.

The impact of silicosis can be devastating. A progressive and frequently fatal lung disease, with few treatment options, sufferers are often faced with the traumatic prospect of lung transplantation.

What can be done?

Silicosis is a preventable disease. Measures such as a reduced level of allowable exposure, appropriate extraction devices and respiratory protection, and ultimately eliminating dry cutting would a make a huge difference, and ultimately save lives. 

What should I do if I've been working with silica?

Register your exposure with one of our experienced lawyers at Gordon Legal by contacting us on 1800 21 22 23.

When and how should I make a claim?

Generally, if you develop silicosis, it is because you have been exposed to silica in the course of your work, and you are likely to have an entitlement to make a claim for compensation. 

How and when to make a claim depends on your individual circumstances. It is a fairly complex area and requires expert advice from a lawyer who specialises in dust disease claims. 

Don't delay contacting us to discuss how we may be able to help you, if you've been exposed to silica.