Engineered Stone and Silicosis: The Risks and Your Legal Rights

What is silicosis?

Silicosis is a severe lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust. Due to the number of Australians recently diagnosed with silicosis, unions, workers and health professionals alike are calling for stricter controls to protect against illness.

Silica dust is commonly found in materials like engineered stone, which is often used for benchtops and other household surfaces. This disease can significantly affect your lung function, leading to serious health complications.

Crystalline silica (silica dust) targets the lungs, and when exposed to high levels, people can exhibit signs of silicosis. However, the effects aren’t always instant, with many sufferers only being diagnosed years after exposure. It’s also important to note that silicosis is only one risk, with silica dust exposure also known to cause other lung and autoimmune diseases.

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Silicosis symptoms

Silicosis is just one lung disease caused by silica dust. Its symptoms may also be similar to other lung conditions, so it isn’t always apparent exactly what may cause your symptoms. As such, you should consult with a doctor at the first sign of symptoms, which may include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

If your symptoms relate to any workplace in which you were exposed to silica dust, it’s worth booking an appointment with a silicosis lawyer today to discuss your options.

How is engineered stone linked to occupational lung disease?

Silica dust is most commonly found in engineered stone products, which are often used in countertops and construction. However, respirable silica dust can also be found in other materials, such as:

  • Sand
  • Clay
  • Marble
  • Mortar
  • Concrete
  • Granite
  • Slate

When cut or polished, these materials release dust that can lead to silicosis if inhaled. The dust is known as respirable silica dust, and there is a growing push to protect workers who handle these materials regularly.

The Cancer Council of Australia estimates that around 600,000 Australians are exposed to silica dust every year. Roughly 530 Australians are diagnosed with silicosis each year, however that figure could potentially be much higher because the illness is often not diagnosed until it is more advanced in the body.

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In August 2023, the Safe Work Council provided the government with a Decision Regulation Impact Statement, recommending the total ban of all engineered stone, regardless of its silica levels. At the time of writing, a decision hasn’t been made by ministers, however the Australian Council of Trade Unions has already flagged its intention to ban engineered stone on union worksites, regardless of the government’s decision.

How do I make a silicosis claim?

If you’ve been exposed to silica dust and are showing symptoms of silicosis, it’s essential to seek legal advice. At Rogalski Lawyers, our experienced silicosis lawyers can guide you through the process of making a claim. We offer no win, no fee silicosis claims, meaning you only pay for our services if we’re successful.

Rogalski Lawyers are your trusted silicosis lawyers, servicing clients in Slacks Creek, Woodridge, Logan Central and all surrounding areas. To discuss your options for making a silicosis claim, contact our friendly team today and we’ll be happy to help.

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Date Posted: December 12, 2023