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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:

  • Brick cutting

  • Angle grinding concrete

  • Masonry

  • Tunnel work

  • Sandblasting

  • Glass manufacturing

  • Steel industry work

  • Quarrying

  • Ceramics 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)

What to do first

Learn more about your rights and what steps you should take.

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:

  • Silicosis

  • Chronic bronchitis

  • Chronic airway obstruction

  • Lung cancer

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • 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.

Know your entitlements

If you've suffered from a silica-related injury or illness, your employer may be liable for damages due to their negligence. You may also be eligible for compensation from a superannuation or insurance policy, or from a government workers' compensation scheme.

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.

Register your exposure to silica

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.

Learn more about our free social work services


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.

Additional costs

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.

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.

Learn more about Superannuation and Disability Insurance claims

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More Information

We're here to help. Make an enquiry now.

If you have a question, want some more information or would just like to speak to someone, make an enquiry now and our Silicosis team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Call us on 1800 444 141