Skip to content
No win no fee

What is silicosis?

Silicosis of the lungs is a devastating respiratory disease caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica dust.

Once inhaled, the dust clings to the lungs and causes pulmonary tissue fibrosis (scaring of the lungs), which can lead to devastating health conditions, such as breathing problems, serious respiratory illness, compromised immune system, and cancer. There is no cure for silicosis and treatment is limited as once the scaring to the lungs has occurred the damage cannot be reversed.

Early diagnosis of silicosis is vital to ensure you receive appropriate treatment and monitoring for any disease progression. If you have been exposed to silica dust, please seek medical advice as soon as possible to discuss your medical options.

Similarly, it is important for past and present workers with silicosis to contact a lawyer who specialises in silicosis compensation so that you can understand your legal rights. Contact Gordon Legal on 03 9603 3000, to arrange your free initial consultation.

What is silicosis caused by?

Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in many common building materials such as stone, concrete, brick, ceramics, glass, and many others. It becomes dangerous when tiny particles of crystallised silica dust are aerosolised (released into the air) by cutting, drilling, sanding, or jackhammering these materials, or even sweeping the debris.

Most commonly, silicosis is caused by exposure to silica dust at work. Workers in the construction, manufacturing, or mining industries are at an increased risk of being exposed as they commonly work with such materials.

There are many cases where even a modest exposure to silica dust particles has eventually led to a diagnosis of silicosis. However, prolonged exposure most often causes silicosis.

Regardless of your level of exposure, it is important that you understand your legal rights and entitlements. Contact us on 03 9603 3000, to arrange a consultation with one of Gordon Legal’s silicosis claims experts.

What is the latency period for silicosis?

One of the most concerning aspects of silicosis is the latency period (the delay) between being exposed to silica dust and developing noticeable symptoms of silicosis. It may be decades after the initial exposure that a person will notice any symptoms.

Usually, the latency period will correspond with the aggressiveness of the disease, for example:

Chronic silicosis   

Exposure to silica dust particles more than 10 years ago


Accelerated silicosis  

Exposure to silica dust particles 3 to 10 years ago


Acute silicosis  

Symptoms develop within weeks or months of exposure to silica dust


What are the symptoms of silicosis?

Recognising the signs and symptoms of silicosis is crucial for early diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis typically involves chest  scans andlung function tests to assess your lung and respiratory health.

If you, a friend, or family member have been exposed to silica dust or experience any respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, consider seeking medical advice as soon as possible.

 Can I get workers’ compensation for silicosis?

There are two non-mutually exclusive avenues for compensation after receiving a diagnosis of silicosis. First, a compensation payment (or payments) from WorkCover for lost earnings and reasonable medical expenses. Second, a legal claim against an employer-and/or manufacturer/s for negligently causing the occupational lung disease.

  1. How do I make a WorkCover claim?

To be entitled to silicosis compensation under WorkCover you must establish that (a) you were exposed to silica dust whilst performing your duties at work, and (b) the exposure(s) caused you to be diagnosed with silicosis or another occupational lung disease. Here are some initial steps to help you progress your claim:

  • Seek medical advice and diagnosis to determine whether you have silicosis or any other occupational lung disease. Ask your medical practitioner (usually your GP) for a WorkCover Certificate of Capacity. This certificate is required to receive compensation through WorkCover. It outlines the nature of your injury and whether you can perform any duties at work.
  • Notify your employer as soon as possible that you have been injured at work. WorkCover requires claimants to notify their employer within 30 days of receiving a diagnosis of silicosis. If 30 days has already passed, notify your employer as soon as possible and seek legal advice.
  • Submit a WorkCover Claim Form and await a decision (up to 28 days). If you have any questions whilst completing this form, please do not hesitate to contact Gordon Legal for assistance on 03 9603 3000.
  1. How can I make a claim against my employer?

After you have submitted a WorkCover claim, you should consider speaking to a lawyer about pursuing what is called a ‘common law claim’ against your employer.

Almost all employers have a duty of care to their employees to protect against reasonably foreseeable risks to worker’s health. If you believe that your employer breached this obligation, and this resulted in your diagnosis of silicosis (or another occupational lung disease) then you may be able to pursue your employer for compensation directly.

It is vital that you speak with a lawyer who specialises in silicosis legal claims so that your rights are protected. Gordon Legal remains at the forefront of silicosis claims, with our team of lawyers being some of the most experienced and renowned dust disease litigators in the country. Contact us on 03 9603 3000, to arrange your free initial consultation.

Are there laws to protect workers from silica exposure?

In Victoria, WorkSafe regulations mandate stringent measures to safeguard workers against silica dust exposure.

Key employer duties include:

  • Conducting risk assessments to identify potential hazards associated with silica dust exposure.
  • Implementing control measures to mitigate risks.
  • Providing adequate training and information to employees.
  • Monitoring air quality regularly, ensuring it meets specified standards.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment such as respirators and goggles.

WorkSafe has the authority to conduct inspections of workplaces to ensure appropriate silica safety measures are complied with. Non-compliance with these regulations will result in fines, and legal actions if they cause injury.

What should I do if I suspect workplace silica exposure?

Safety should always be your priority. If you believe your employer has failed to adhere to proper occupational health and safety standards, please alert WorkSafe Victoria.

The chronic and severe nature of silicosis can lead to significant medical expenses, lost wages, and decreased quality of life. Exposure and disease also cause profound emotional distress for those affected and their families. The severity of these impacts underscores the necessity for workplaces to remain vigilant when exercising their duties to provide safe working environments for their employees.

The Gordon Legal team includes experienced dust disease litigators who can help you navigate the confusing and often overwhelming process of making a legal claim for workers compensation. We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning you will never be out of pocket if you engage us to fight for your claim.

If you believe you have suffered harm as a result of exposure to silica dust at your workplace, please do not hesitate to contact us on 03 9603 3000, to arrange a free initial consultation.

No win, no fee

Help when you need it most without the added stress of upfront legal fees engaging a
no win, no fee lawyer. When you need legal help, understandably, the first thing people often think is ‘can I afford it?’ To address this, our Senior Partner, Peter Gordon and Partner, Paul Henderson pioneered the ‘no win, no fee’ system to create greater access to the legal system.

We are here to help

When you’re ready, give us a call or click on the button below to send us a message. It will go straight to a caring and committed member of our team who will contact you within 24 hours.