Silicosis is basically caused by the inhalation of silica dust, or respirable crystalline silica. Like any other dust, silica dust is hazardous if low levels of it are inhaled regularly over a long period of time.
Silicosis which develops 10 to 30 years after the initial exposure is known as chronic silicosis. If high levels of the dust are inhaled over a short period of time, then this will likely mean the condition progresses a lot faster, roughly within four to eight years. Silicosis which causes symptoms this quickly is known as accelerated silicosis. The third type is acute silicosis, which occurs very soon, possibly a matter of months or even weeks, after short term exposure to very large amounts of silica.
Silica dust is dangerous because it's very fine and can reach deep down into the lungs, where it gets trapped in the alveoli (the tiny sacs in lungs that allow for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide). The body tries to get rid of the dust particles by attacking them with white blood cells, resulting in inflammation around the dust particles and eventually leading to scarring. This scarring diminishes the capability of the lungs, causing breathing problems and reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood.
This is likely to lead to further complications later on, such as bronchitis and lung cancer. Severe scarring and stiffening of the lung is known as progressive massive fibrosis.
Silicosis is a serious condition because the effects of it cannot be cured and it can only be prevented by effective health and safety measures. This is why, if you work in one of the industries which exposes workers to risk of silicosis, you should use relevant safety equipment and take heed of any safety training at all times, such as wearing a respirator or dust mask.
How common is silica dust?
Sadly, silica dust is a common workplace hazard, because it is found in many natural substances, including:
However, although the list consists of many everyday materials, general exposure to them is not sufficient to cause silicosis and, according to the Health and Safety Executive, no member of the general public has ever been diagnosed with the condition. It is the workers who are exposed to silica on a regular basis who need to worry about protecting themselves from it.
No Win No Fee solicitors who are on your side
Silicosis can become very severe, causing serious impairment to the sufferer, and it can even result in death. Unfortunately, the damage caused to the lungs is irreversible.
With years of experience dealing with personal injury claims, Thompsons Solicitors is a law firm that you can trust to win you the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers have represented many workers who have been exposed to silica dust because of unsafe and poorly regulated work conditions. They are more than well-prepared to advise and guide you through the claims process, even if the liable employer is no longer in business.
With such claims, it is recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as you know that your illness is related to past exposure to silica dust at work, so that you can understand your options at the earliest possible time.
Call Thompsons Solicitors today on 0800 0891331 to talk to an expert lawyer about making a claim.
This initial call is free, and you're at no obligation to proceed with your claim if you decide against it.