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Silicosis is the latest dust disease causing concern for Australia’s workers

According to the Cancer Council, in 2011 around 587,000 Australian workers were exposed to silica dust while at work. Over 5,000 of these workers are estimated to be at risk of developing eventual lung cancer as a result.

Silica is found in bricks, concrete, sandstone, granite and tiles. When stonemasons or other construction workers are drilling or crushing these materials, the silica dust particles released into the air are extremely fine, and once breathed in can lead to the development of silicosis.

Health experts are particularly concerned about engineered stone materials, because of their high silica concentration (up to 90 per cent)

Silicosis, much like other dust-related diseases, can be undetected for as long as 10 years. When it does present, it causes chest pain, shortness of breath, tiredness and a nasty cough.

There are 3 different kinds you can develop

  1. Chronic is the most common kind, resulting from prolonged (more than 20 years) of silica dust exposure
  2. Accelerated silicosis develops from exposure to larger amounts, over a shorter period of time (5-15 years)
  3. Acute silicosis occurs from exposure to large amounts of silica dust, in a short period of time

Who is at risk of developing silicosis?

  • Construction workers
  • Concrete-cutters
  • Miners
  • Road workers
  • Sandblasters
  • Cleaners who work around dust and debris
  • Ceramicists

Depending on the diagnosis, treatment will vary. Unfortunately, some cases of silicosis can be fatal.

Our expert dust diseases team are the most experienced in Victoria. It’s a good idea to get in touch as soon as possible to get a better picture of what steps you can take if you’re worried. You can also register your silica exposure with us, so if you ever have a claim in the future you have a record.

If you need legal advice, or have any questions about potential silica dust exposure, get in touch with our friendly, experienced team today on 1800 21 22 23. We’re here to help.

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