Silicosis Compensation Claims
Silicosis is a serious disease of the lungs that is caused by the inhalation of silica dust, also known as respirable crystalline silica (RCS). It is a condition that is usually developed after exposure to the dust particles over a long period of time, often several years. If you have been diagnosed with silicosis or any other industry related disease, you may be entitled to make a silicosis compensation claim. A solicitor can assist you in assessing your eligibility to make a claim for compensation against your employer, whether past or present.
To make a successful claim, your solicitor will need to prove that your diagnosis is linked to your working conditions and that your employer or previous employer is liable. In other words, your employer has failed to provide you with a safe working environment, which has resulted in you suffering from this illness. For example, you may not have been provided with suitable PPE (personal protective equipment) such as dust masks when working in dusty conditions.
Experienced personal injury lawyers have years of experience in helping people claim compensation for a whole host of industrial illnesses and accidents, including claims for silicosis. Most injury lawyers provide a No Win No Fee service, so there are no upfront costs, and if they cannot win your case you won’t pay a penny.
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a preventable respiratory disease that affects the lungs. When silica dust is inhaled, small particles of the dust become embedded into the lungs, which cannot be cleared by coughing or through mucous. Silica dust is toxic, and it can cause an inflammatory reaction which can lead to the lung tissues becoming scarred and thickened. This condition is known as fibrosis, and when this happens, it becomes difficult for the lungs to take in oxygen properly.
Extremely high levels of exposure to silica dust can cause the disease within the space of a year. But in most cases it takes between 10-15 years of exposure before the symptoms of silicosis will occur. The main symptoms that people with silicosis suffer from are shortness of breath, persistent coughing and a general feeling of tiredness and weakness. These conditions often get worse over time, and can make everyday tasks such as climbing stairs a struggle.
Although rare, this condition can be fatal if it causes the lungs to shut down and stop working as they should. It can also lead to other serious conditions, such as lung cancer, kidney disease, heart failure and tuberculosis. Further information about the disease can be found on the NHS website.
Silicosis can be broken down into three main types:
- Simple chronic silicosis – This is the most common form of the condition and occurs after long-term exposure to low amounts of silica dust for 20 plus years. Suffering from this form of the condition will usually cause a dry cough, shortness of breath and tiredness.
- Accelerated silicosis – This form of the lung disease occurs when people are exposed to silica dust over a shorter period of time but with larger levels of dust inhalation. The amount of exposure can be between 5 to 15 years, and the symptoms suffered by the swelling in the lungs are usually more severe.
- Acute silicosis – This is a rarer form of the disease that results from short-term exposure to large amounts of silica dust. The range of symptoms that a person with acute silicosis may suffer from includes extreme breathlessness, fluid on the lungs, chest pains and low blood oxygen levels.
Employer responsibility to protect workers against silicosis
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, it is the responsibility of an employer to protect their employees’ health from potential risks of diseases and illnesses. The employer is legally obliged to undertake risk assessments on a regular basis to ensure that high safety standards are met and managed successfully. Oversight or failure in this area can lead to staff suffering from illnesses or injuries caused by their job or work environment.
Employers also have a legal responsibility under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations to take appropriate steps to avoid exposing workers to hazardous substances, which includes silica. In situations where exposure cannot be avoided, an employer must take steps to minimise the impact and subsequent risk of illness. This may include the following steps:
- conducting risk assessments
- providing employees with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE)
- ensuring adequate ventilation and extraction systems are in place
- providing employees with the necessary safety training
If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, it may be possible for you to make a claim for personal injury compensation. The solicitors we work in partnership with have vast experience in processing silicosis claims and would be pleased to discuss the details of your case during a free consultation.
Who are most at risk of developing silicosis?
Silicosis is caused when particles of silica dust are released into the atmosphere and inhaled. This usually happens in work environments where sand, stone, granite, quartz and similar materials that contain silica are drilled, ground, crushed or cut. Therefore, people that are employed in the following industries are considered most as risk:
- demolition works
- manufacturing of ceramics and pottery
- sand blasting
- stone masonry
Although the industries above present a greater danger than many others, people can still develop silicosis while working in lots of other environments and professions.
If you are suffering from the effects of silicosis, and you feel that your exposure to silica dust was due to the negligence of your employer, you could be entitled to claim compensation for your illness.