Asbestosis is a condition that affects large numbers of Australians every year. However, many sufferers do not realise they have asbestosis until it is too late, or do not fully understand its symptoms.
Most people become exposed to asbestos at work. Many years ago, this occurred while mining, or during the manufacture of products that contain asbestos. Construction workers were also particularly vulnerable to asbestos.
However, as asbestos has been removed from building products, the risks have now changed. Many old structures still contain the hazardous fibres, meaning workers are exposed to them during renovation or demolition projects.
Bans started to be put in place in the 1970s surrounding the mining, sale, manufacture and use of asbestos, as well as products that contain the fibres. These laws prohibit any new uses of asbestos, but do not require the substance to be removed from any existing applications.
There is still a risk that asbestos products may be imported into Australia unintentionally, further exposing members of the public to the fibres.
One of the biggest problems associated with asbestosis is that it can take as long as 20 years for the symptoms to develop.
Asbestos becomes lodged inside the lungs, which seriously affects the tissue. The organ therefore cannot work as well as it should, making it difficult for the person to breath.
Some of the most common indicators of asbestosis are:
There is no cure for asbestosis. Sufferers usually seek medication to reduce the impact of the symptoms, but in many cases they are left unable to work.
Asbestosis is more common in men than women, as Safe Work Australia reveals that 97 per cent of hospitalisations between 1998 and 2010 were for males.
Asbestosis sufferers often seek compensation from their former employers, not least because their symptoms tend to worsen over time. Not only can the condition shorten their lifespan, but also severely limit the daily tasks they can undertake.
There were a total of 102 asbestosis claims accepted in 2011, which was the lowest number seen since 2002, Safe Work Australia reveals. However, it is worth bearing in mind that any claims need to be submitted while the patient is still alive.
If you are interested in pursuing an asbestosis claim, get in touch with our team of no win, no fee solicitors to see what compensation you might be entitled to.