Silicosis is one of the most common industrial diseases along with asbestosis, but fortunately, the risk of silicosis in the UK have reduced to very low levels. Silicosis occurs from the inhalation of silica dust, and results in lung tissue becoming damaged. It is also called grinder’s asthma, potter rot and miner’s asthma. It can be prevented completely by precautionary measures, but once it takes hold it cannot be cured. If you have found that you are suffering from silicosis because of exposure to silica dust in your past or present workplace, then you are entitled to make a silicosis claim.
Causes of Silicosis
Silicosis is caused by silica dust. Silica is an abundant mineral found in the earth’s crust and is a major component of sand, ores and mineral rocks. Workers involved with construction and with the manufacturing of construction materials face an increased risk of silicosis. Silica is a major component in a number of construction materials like marble, slate, plaster, sand and sandstone. Workers who are involved with crushing, grinding, drilling, cutting and the blasting of silica-containing materials are under a higher risk of inhaling silica dust.
Types of Silicosis
Silicosis is further divided into three types – chronic silicosis, accelerated silicosis and acute silicosis.
- Chronic Silicosis
Low levels of silica dust exposure causes chronic silicosis. It is common among all types of silicosis sufferers and develops after long-term exposure of silica for more than 20 years. Chronic silicosis cannot be diagnosed at early stages, as its symptoms appear when the lungs are already damaged. A dry cough and breathing difficulties are common symptoms of chronic silicosis.
- Accelerated Silicosis
Accelerated silicosis appears following a higher level of silica exposure but in a shorter period of time – usually between 5 and 15 years. Its symptoms are shortness of breath, weakness and weight loss. Lungs swelling occurs in accelerated silicosis at a faster speed than in chronic silicosis.
- Acute Silicosis
A very high dosage of silica results in acute silicosis. Its symptoms appear in a very short period of time. It is a rare type of silicosis but is the most severe and damaging of all. Very severe swelling of the lungs means air cannot circulate and causes breathlessness. Acute silicosis can also prove fatal in severe cases.
Symptoms of Silicosis
In the main, silicosis causes damage to the lungs of victims, which results in a variety of symptoms. These include:
- Dry cough,
- Shortness of breath during physical activities, such as running, exercising and weight lifting,
- Continuous fever,
- Chest stretching and chest pain,
- Loss of appetite and loss of weight, and
- Irregular breathing patterns.
Occupation with High Risk of Silicosis
Different occupations and industries in which the risk of silica exposure to the workers is high include:
- Construction work (drilling, hammering, masonry work),
- Mining work (stone cutting, sandblasting, grinding and drilling),
- Glass work,
- Ceramics and pottery work,
- Detergent and soap manufacturing,
- Agriculture (ploughing and harvesting),
- Rail working and
- Foundries work.
Treatment of Silicosis
A complete cure of silicosis is not possible. Different treatment methods are used to minimise the intense symptoms of silicosis or to halt the progress of the disease.
- A high dose of steroids can be used to treat acute silicosis,
- Oxygen therapy is used to overcome breathing difficulties,
- Respiratory infections can be treated by antibiotics,
- Quitting smoking can reduce the speed of disease’s progression.
Silicosis Compensation Claim
Under various Health and Safety Regulations, it is the employer’s duty to protect staff from different workplace hazards. To protect you from dusts and silica particles in the workplace, your employer should carry out risk assessments. They must provide you with suitable personal protective equipment and proper training.
If you are diagnosed with silicosis and you think this due to workplace conditions, then you must consult your GP. Your GP will be able to relate your disease with your present or past occupation. If it is confirmed that your employer’s negligence caused you to develop silicosis, then make your compensation claim by hiring expert solicitors. We make sure our clients trace responsible companies and their insurers to receive compensation.
Make your silicosis compensation claim or take our legal advice about your industrial disease by calling us on 08000 430 430. You can also complete our online enquiry form and request a call back.