OCCUPATIONAL CANCER AND INDUSTRIAL DISEASES
INDUSTRIAL DISEASES (ASBESTOS, SILICA, BLACK LUNG)
The compensation procedures available to people affected by industrial diseases largely depends on whether or not the exposure to certain substances such as coal mine dust, asbestos, silica have occurred at work or outside of work. How or what you were exposed to and in what circumstances that exposure occurred will determine which compensation avenue benefits you.
Legal advice should be obtained immediately if you are diagnosed with any of the following diseases:
- Mesothelioma: a cancer of the pleura, being the lining of the lungs and other internal organs which can be caused by relatively low exposure to asbestos fibres;
- Lung Cancer: a cancer of the lung tissue which can be caused by significant exposures to asbestos, even where other factors are also present such as a history of smoking;
- Asbestosis: scarring in the lung tissue that is usually caused by significant exposures to asbestos, dust and fibre. Although not a form of cancer, this condition can nevertheless be progressive;
- Benign Pleural Plaques: calcium deposits on the lining of the lungs which usually occurs in areas affected by asbestos exposure. Pleural plaques can cause breathing restriction and chest pain;
- Silicosis: is not a naturally occurring disease. It’s occurrence is directly associated with workplace exposure to silica dust. It is caused from breathing in the crystalline form of silica. Silica is the main component in sand and rocks like sandstone and granite. Many workplaces are not aware that common building products including clay bricks, concrete, tiles and fibro cement products contain silica. Silica dust is usually created when these building products, sandstone or rocks are cut, drilled or worked on in a way that creates fine particles of silica in the air. Industries we typically see a diagnosis of silicosis are in:
- Underground mining, tunnelling and excavation work
- Extraction and cutting of quartzite, gneiss, granite and slate
- Glass manufacturing plants
- Brick making
- Manufacture of pottery, porcelain, refractory materials and siliceous abrasives
- Road building
- Demolition work where potential sites of silica exist e.g. breaking up concrete
- Explosive blasting work
If excessive amounts of silica dust are breathed into the lungs over a period of time, it can cause damage to the lung tissue. The disease can remain symptom-free for 10-20 years after exposure. The most common form of silicosis develops after long exposure to relatively low concentrations. Once the disease has begun, it will continue to progress even if the worker is removed from further exposure.
- Black Lung: also known as coal workers pneumoconiosis is caused by exposure to or breathing in of coal dust or graphite. The length of time of exposure is an important factor when looking at a person’s risk of developing the disease. The disease can develop over a lengthy period (even if exposure to the coal dust has stopped), sometimes upwards of 15 years.
For industrial diseases you can make a claim even if:
- you are no longer employed where the exposure occurred;
- you were exposed more than 50 years ago;
- your employer at the time has since gone out of business;
- you were exposed by many employers;
- you were self-employed or a contractor at the time of exposure;
- your exposure to asbestos was not at work;
- you were exposed to asbestos during home renovations; and
- you also smoke cigarettes.
If you are diagnosed with any industrial disease you should seek legal assistance with your claim as these claims are complex due to the nature of the disease.
If you have any questions, please call for a free consultation.