As industry-related illnesses go, silicosis is one of the worst. Rather than being the direct result of one-off accidents at work, the problems build up over time and symptoms usually don’t manifest themselves until many years later.
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a chronic lung disease caused by breathing in minute pieces of silica dust. It comes in three types:
- Chronic silicosis – Brought about after 10 or more years of exposure to silica dust at a low level.
- Accelerated silicosis – Occurs after 5-10 years of exposure to higher levels
- Acute silicosis – Manifests itself after just weeks or months of exposure to very high levels of silica. Victims can be dead within a year.
As the second most common mineral within the earth’s crust, there is more than enough silica around to cause serious illness at work.
What are the symptoms of silicosis?
Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath, particularly after exercise or other forms of physical exertion.
- Being easily fatigued and generally feeling tired
- Severe cough
- Pains in the chest
- Skin takes on a blueish hue (known as cyanosis)
- A lack of appetite
What are the complications of silicosis?
Silicosis causes severe damage to the lungs which leaves the victim vulnerable to subsequent illnesses and infections, particularly tuberculosis.
Can silicosis be cured?
In short, no. If victims are smokers, they must immediately give up the cigarettes as they both aggravate the symptoms and speed up the progress of the illness.
Influenza vaccinations in the winter are also recommended and inflammation of the lungs can be reduced by treatment but there is no remedy for ridding the body of silicosis completely.
What can I do if I discover I have silicosis?
If your work has caused you to develop silicosis, then you could well be due some work illness compensation.
Most work accident claims have a shelf-life of three years after the incident in which they have to be made but there are exceptions to this rule. Health complications because of industry-related illnesses brought about at a later date are one such exception and silicosis certainly fits the bill.
If you were given insufficient protection and training to guard against the risk of developing silicosis then you may well have a case to make. Accident Advice Helpline are experienced in dealing with work accident and injury claims and will take your case on on a no-win, no-fee* basis.
Date Published: February 26, 2014
Author: David Brown