Crystalline silica (silica) is found in a variety of products including manufactured stone products (often used in kitchen, laundry and bathroom benchtops) as well as natural stone (particularly sandstone), concrete and mortar.
When drilled, cut, sawn or otherwise worked with silcia dust is generated into the air and often inhaled.
Inhalation of silica dust can cause a number of different conditions including:
  • acute silicosis;
  • accelerated and chronic silicosis;
  • progressive massive fibrosis (complicated silicosis);
  • silica induced lung cancer; and
  • other conditions including scleroderma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and damage to the kidneys.

The risk of disease from silica disease has been known for many decades.  Workers who develop disease from silica may be entitled to obtain compensation.  Segelov Taylor Lawyers are expert in bringing claims for silcia disease and can provide advice and representation.  We offer an obligation free case assessment service.

About Silicosis

Silicosis is a incurable lung disease cased by inhalation of crystalline silica dust.  It involves inflammation and the development  scarring of the lungs.

Silicosis is generally a progressive condition and may lead to respiratory failure. There are three clinical kinds of silicosis – acute silicosis, accelerated silicosis and chronic silicosis.

Acute silicosis

Acute silicosis can develop after short-term exposure (weeks or months) to very high levels of silica dust and leads to the rapid onset of symptoms and potential health complications.

Acute silicosis was historically very rare.  However, there has been an increase in the incidence of acute silicosis arising from work with engineered on manufactured stone products.  Those products can contain up to, and in excess of 90% crystalline silica.

Acute silicosis involves severe inflammation and an outpouring of protein into the lungs which can fill with fluid.  This in turn leads to severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels.

Accelerated silicosis

Accelerated silicosis may develop within 3-10 years of first exposure to silica dust.  Like acute silicosis, accelerated silicosis was historically rare.  However the increased use of engineered stone has lead to an increase in incidents of accelerated silicosis.

In accelerated silicosis, swelling in the lungs and symptoms occur faster than in chronic silicosis.  Like chronic silicosis, lesions known as silicotic nodules develop which if they coalesce can become Progressive Massive Fibrosis.  Symptoms include shortness of breath which overtime may lead to a need for support with oxygen.

Chronic silicosis

Chronic silicosis may develop after many years (10-40) of exposure to silica.  Historically chronic silicosis was the most common form of the disease, particularly in places like Sydney amount jack pick operators who drilled sandstone.  Chronic silicosis can become progressive massive fibrosis.

In chronic silicosis, the silica dust causes areas of swelling in the lungs and chest lymph nodes, which leads to shortness of breath.

Progressive Massive Fibrosis

Chronic and accelerated silicosis can progress to become Progressive Massive Fibrosis (also known as PMF).   PMF occurs when the silicotic nodules in the lung coalesce.  PMF can also occur as a result of exposure to other dusts.

PMF involves severe shortness of breath and often requires oxygen support.  The symptoms of PMF will generally deteriorate and often lead to respiratory failure and death.

Silica Induced Lung Cancer

Silcia is an known carcinogen.  The inhalation of large amounts of silica dust, or exposure over extended periods can lead to the development of lung cancer.  The risk of lung cancer is higher among people who are (or have been) smokers.

Other Silica related diseases

In addition to the various kinds of silicosis, PMF and lung cancer , inhalation of silcia may lead to scleroderma – a disease of the connective tissue of the body resulting in the formation of scar tissue in the skin, joints and other organs of the body, as well as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and kidney damage.

Compensation

The process for claims for silicosis and other silcia induced diseases differs by state to state.

Depending on the state,  claims made be brought under workers compensation statutes and/or in Court proceedings against employers.  People suffering from silicosis in New South Wales may also make application on the Dust Diseases Authority.  For more information about the DDA, follow this link.

We act on a full no win no fee basis in all silicosis and silica induced disease claims.  We will not be paid unless you win your claim. More information about our fees is set out on our fee policy page.

How long do claims take?

A claim for a person suffering from silicosis or other silica induced disease usually takes between 4 and 10 months to finalise. Claims can run quicker if necessary.

How much are claims worth?

The value of the claim depends on a variety of factors.  The most significant factors are the level of disability, and the likely progression of the disease.  Other factors, including whether you are still in employment (or if the disease has stopped you working), along with the amount of care you need, and whether you provided care to any dependent will also be relevant.

Common Questions

I don't live in Australia anymore. Can I claim?

Your entitlement to bring a claim arises from where you were exposed to silica, not where you now live.  We have acted for many clients who have moved from Australia and have lived in Greece, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries when they have developed silicosis and PMF.

We maintain relationships with lawyers in many countries which enables us to effectively represent overseas based clients.

Can I still make a claim if my employer went out of business?

Yes.  While most claims for silicosis and silica diseases are against employers, it is the workers compensation insurer not the employer that actually acts in the matter and pays compensation.  We are expert in working out who the relevant insurer was for periods of employment.

In addition it is sometimes possible to proceed against the occupier, or the principal contractor who, in terms of silicosis claims, are often part of the government (for example,  the Water Board).

Free Case Assessment

We offer a free initial case assessment.

We will obtain preliminary instructions from you and advise you whether we believe we are able to assist you in your matter.  If we believe we may be able to assist you we will discuss with you the the process, the terms on which we can act (including the likely costs) and the value of the claim.  The case assessment may be by phone, or in person. There is no cost associated with this case assessment, nor any obligation to instruct us in your matter.

You can contact email Tanya Segelov (tanya@segelovtaylor.com.au), phone us on (03) 9021 7260 (Melbourne) or (02) 8880 0500 (Sydney)  or complete the form below. to arrange your free case assessment.

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