Crystalline silica is a mineral in the Earth’s crust and a basic component of soil, sand and granite. It's also used in the construction of materials such as bricks, tiles, concrete and artificial stone.
When working with these materials you may be exposed to silica dust, particularly if using power tools to cut, grind and drill products.
Some of the activities that might expose you to silica dust are:
Angle grinding concrete
Steel industry work
Concrete cutting, jack hammering and chiselling of concrete
Cleaning up/sweeping up of dust and debris
Use of power tools to cut, grind and drill into artificial stone (eg. Caesarstone)
Silica exposure can cause a range of serious health issues
Silica dust is so fine it can enter the deepest parts of the lungs. The dust can build up in the lungs overtime and cause scarring leading to a number of diseases.
Excessive exposure to airborne silica dust can cause the following conditions:
Chronic airway obstruction
Chronic renal disease
What is Silicosis?
Silicosis is a very serious disease caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica. It is marked by inflammation and scarring in the upper part of the lungs.
Who is affected?
Traditionally, exposure to silica occurred in workplaces and industries such as mining, construction and demolition.
Now, we are seeing a worrying trend of exposure to dangerous amounts of crystalline silica from the use of power tools to cut, grind and drill into artificial stone for bathroom and kitchen bench tops in home renovations.
Symptoms and latency period
Although the medium latency period for the development of silicosis symptoms is 7 years, rapid decline in lung function and progressive massive fibrosis can occur as early as 3 years.
Damage can be done to the lungs even before symptoms are obvious. A cough is an early symptom. As scarring in the lungs progresses, symptoms can worsen and include:
- Phlegm build up
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
People with acute silicosis can also suffer from fevers, weight loss and fatigue.
Removing the source of the silica exposure is the only way to prevent silicosis lung disease or progression of the disease.
Unfortunately, there is no proven treatment other than a lung transplant - so prevention, awareness and control of dust exposure is vital.
Register your exposure
If you have been exposed to silica or are concerned that you may have been exposed, it's important to register the nature and circumstances of the exposure on the Slater and Gordon Silicosis Database.
Registering is important so data can be collected and collated to increase knowledge, awareness, lift standards and improve management of those that have been exposed. Also, by registering your exposure, you'll be protecting your information for any potential future claims. You'll also find out if you have any entitlements to silicosis compensation now.
We've had years of experience winning cases like yours
If you or someone close to you has been exposed to silica and is suffering symptoms it's important you seek the advice of a lawyer experienced in occupational dust diseases who can provide a free initial appointment** on a confidential no-obligation basis.
Our lawyers are experienced in handling occupational dust disease cases, having pioneered asbestos litigation and secured compensation for thousands of Australians diagnosed with asbestos related illnesses.
We take every case seriously, and will investigate yours based on its merits to advise you of the likelihood of success and the likely value of your silicosis claim.
Free social work services
We understand that obtaining the correct legal entitlements is only one of the many issues people have to face on their journey through life-changing incidents. As a caring and community-minded firm, we've long recognised the value of providing free social work services to address these issues to help improve clients’ wellbeing. In fact, we were the first, and are still the only law firm in Australia to offer this service. We're here to help you and your family get back on track in times of difficulty.
We understand that injury or illness can have a devastating impact on your financial position. Therefore, having to pay legal fees should not be a barrier to you seeking compensation. People with valid claims should be able to have access to justice. That's why we were one of the first law firms to operate on a No Win - No Fee* payment system.
This means that if your case is successful, you'll receive compensation and we'll be paid for the legal work we have done on your behalf. However, if your case is not successful and you do not receive compensation then you'll not pay any of our legal fees at all.
Our fees are never a percentage of the final compensation you receive, they're a set amount which is agreed to up-front when you choose us to be your lawyers.
From time to time, you may incur additional costs throughout your case. For example, we may need to gain access to your medical records or obtain expert reports. This is called a disbursement. You'll know if there's likely to be any additional costs at your free initial appointment**.
What to expect
Every case is different, but there are a number of steps you may go through in the process of your case. Our knowledgable and caring team of lawyers will guide you through all of these stages to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Get in touch
We'll obtain some basic information from you concerning your health and make an appointment for you to meet with our team.
Attend your free initial appointment**
This gives you the opportunity to find out more about your claim and discuss your options so you can make the best decision for you.
We'll obtain medical evidence
We'll obtain all medical material needed to support your claim.
Your case will likely settle at the pre-trial stage
All cases are the subject of pre-trial negotiations, and the vast majority resolve at this time. Once settlement is reached, we have a dedicated staff member whose job it is to finalise everything and get your money to you as quickly as possible.
Most cases do not reach this point. If yours does, we'll guide you every step of the way to help you get the compensation you're entitled to at law.
Superannuation and Disability Insurance claims
If you are no longer performing your normal work duties as a result of your injury, you may be entitled to a disability benefit through your superannuation fund. We can conduct an obligation free assessment to find out if you may be entitled to a payment.