The Australian Work Exposures Study found that 6.6% of the entire working population in Australia has been exposed to dust containing respirable crystalline silica. This is just one of the many harmful dust particles that can cause chronic lung conditions. (The others include asbestos, bagasse, cotton, hay and straw and any dust from cutting or grinding natural materials.)
Even if you smoke or have other lung conditions such as asthma, you can still make a dust disease claim.
Symptoms of dust disease
To understand if you're eligible for a dust disease claim you will first need to be diagnosed with a chronic lung condition. You may experience shortness of breath, coughing and irritation of your eyes, nose and throat that can all be symptoms of a dust disease.
Unfortunately, the longer you breathe in the dust, the greater chance it will severely affect your health. Additionally, those with existing respiratory and heart conditions, like asthma or high blood pressure, and smokers have an even greater risk of developing severe dust disease, according to the Department of Health of Western Australia.
If you believe you have been exposed to harmful dust, especially while at work, and develop these symptoms, it's crucial to contact your doctor for further testing. If you feel existing conditions – like a cough caused by smoking – has gotten worse and is accompanied by additional symptoms, a medical professional can determine if you have dust disease or are experiencing a side effect of smoking.
Can smokers file a claim?
Yes. You can still make a dust disease claim if you smoke, and it in no way precludes you from claiming compensation for said ailment.
Smoking, especially frequently, causes lasting damage to your lungs, but a doctor will ultimately be able to find the root cause of your chronic lung disease or cancer. Along with a medical investigation, doctor's will take into consideration the field you work in to determine if you were exposed to harmful dust and at what level the exposure occurred.
Smokers have successfully filed for a claim and received compensation for chronic lung disease caused by inhaling harmful dust particles.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a lung disease caused by inhaling harmful particles, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the legal experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners to learn more about your rights to a claim.