Dust Disease – What you need to know

PUBLISHED 03 Jan 2020

Dust disease is unfortunately all too prevalent among those who work in mining, construction, excavation, sandblasting, tunnelling, and stone manufacturing, among others. With reports of dust disease recently on the rise across Australia, you must know what it is, and what your legal recourse is if you’ve contracted it.

What is dust disease?

Dust disease can take many different forms, but they all have the same root cause: microscopic particles of dust accumulating in your lungs. These particles scar lung tissue, which results in the formation of nodules that may restrict breathing. Types of dust diseases include mesothelioma, asbestosis, silicosis, hard metal pneumoconiosis, and even lung cancer.

What are the symptoms of dust disease?

Symptoms often take many years to appear, even if you’ve no longer been exposed to dust. Initially, you experience shortness of breath and a harsh, dry cough. Chest pain and mucus in the respiratory airways may also arise. Over time, this can turn into labored or difficulty breathing, sleep troubles, weight loss, and loss of appetite.

What causes dust disease?

Several different causes can lead to dust disease. Workers who cut, grind and polish artificial stones create microscopic dust particles.

Insufficient protective gear allows workers to inhale these particles, which then lodge themselves in the lungs.

How can I protect myself from dust disease?

Workplaces should provide adequate protective gear for employees.

As noted by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, neither negative pressure half-face respirators or disposable paper dust masks suffice to protect against silica dust.

What should I do if I think I have dust disease?

If you think you’ve contracted dust disease, it’s imperative you seek out a medical assessment from a licensed professional as soon as possible.

What are my legal options if I contract workplace-related dust disease?

Worksites are required to undertake independent assessments of respirable dust levels and maintain compliant workplace exposure standards. They are also required to provide adequate protective gear to reduce the risk of dust inhalation.

Have you contracted dust disease due to poor workplace exposure standards? You could be entitled to compensation. Contact the dust-disease compensation experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.