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Home > Personal Injury > Industrial Diseases > Pneumoconiosis >Silicosis and pneumoconiosis diseases

Silicosis and pneumoconiosis diseases

Silicosis legal advice

Silicosis - also known as “Potter's Rot” because of its link with the inhalation of silica dust, a common compound found in several materials where dust is created when breaking, crushing, drilling, grinding, cutting or blasting those materials. Silicosis is one of several pneumoconiosis diseases and causes inflammation and scarring in the upper area of the lungs and causes chest pain, cough and shortness of breath among its symptoms.

However, sufferers may also demonstrate some or all of a number of other conditions, such as blue tinged skin (cyanosis), fatigue, fever, heart disease, nail abnormalities, rapid breathing (tachypnea) other respiratory problems, or weight loss.

Small particles become embedded into part of the lung and coughing cannot dislodge them, nor are they affected by mucous. Silicosis is a respiratory disease but is completely preventable by avoiding the hazard of breathing in the silica dust.

Industrial disease compensation awarded to tunneller

Some years prior to his retirement, our client had begun to experience severe breathing difficulties. When he was diagnosed with both silicosis and lung cancer, as a result of the negligent exposure by his employers, he was advised to seek personal injury advice about making a claim for personal injury compensation.

Our client had worked for a large number of construction companies during his working life, as was typical in the construction industry, as workers moved on from one completed project to another. Sadly, he was negligently exposed to concrete and other dust products by many of them, a situation which was also typical of the construction industry at that time.

Our specialist personal injury solicitors were able to negotiate a substantial sum in industrial disease compensation for our client’s pain and suffering.
More about Industrial disease compensation awarded to tunneller

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For more information on whether Clear Answers can help you make a claim for industrial disease compensation, please select one of the links below:

Clear Answers’ specialist industrial disease lawyers

Clear Answers’ personal injury advice solicitors specialise in all types of industrial injury claims, but have particular experience in dealing with compensation claims involving exposure to hazardous substances such as silica.

Strict time limits apply to making a claim for any type of personal injury, so please contact an experienced solicitor as soon as you think you may have a claim for compensation. Please visit our section on information and advice for more details on making a personal injury compensation claim.

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Health risks of inhaling silica

Found in sand and rocks such as granite, sandstone, slate and flint, and in some coal and metallic ores, silica is a very common mineral. A fine silica dust is produced when these types of rocks are drilled, crushed, cut or broken. Most at risk of inhaling silica, and developing silicosis, are those who work in foundries, or work in sandblasting, or even those who use these materials in pottery.

The dust is toxic to the lining of the lungs and causes a strong inflammatory reaction. Once inhaled, the particles cause the lung tissue to become thickened and scarred – known as fibrosis – a condition that is irreversible and the scar tissue prevents the lungs from effectively taking in oxygen.

Symptoms of silicosis can appear within a year, although it is more common for the symptoms to occur 10 – 15 years after exposure to silica dust. The rate at which the disease will progress once symptoms have occurred is dependent upon the interval between exposure and the onset of the symptoms. The greater the interval between exposure and symptoms, the slower the disease tends to progress.

If you are suffering from silicosis, you will also be at greater risk of developing other respiratory diseases such as lung cancer or tuberculosis.

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Types of silicosis

Silicosis can be categorised by the nature of the disease and the exposure that the sufferer has received. There are three categories of silica, chronic, acute and accelerated.

If you are suffering from silicosis, your symptoms may include a cough, often dry. Silicosis causes damage to the lung tissue and will cause you to be tired, suffer shortness of breach and experience tightening of the chest. You will be in pain and will suffer loss of appetite.

As the disease progresses, you may see blood when you cough, and you will be losing weight. Breathing difficulties will also increase as the disease progresses.

Chronic silicosis

The most common form of silicosis, exposure is often at fairly low levels of silica dust but will have resulted from long-term exposure, typically more than 20 years.

Breathing problems will appear, followed by a dry cough. The sufferer may or may not experience pain but it will take some considerable time for the symptoms to appear. By the time they do, the lungs will have already suffered widespread damage, which can only be determined by chest X-ray.

Accelerated silicosis

Symptoms of severe shortness of breath, weakness and weight loss are often experienced with accelerated silicosis. Sufferers will usually have been exposed for a shorter period, possibly five to fifteen years, but the level of exposure will have been higher during this time. Swelling in the lungs occurs and symptoms of the disease will occur faster than in chronic silicosis.

Acute silicosis

Rarer than either accelerated or chronic silicosis, the symptoms of acute silicosis develop quickly. Exposure will have been at high levels but for a relatively short period. These high levels of silica dust in the lungs can lead to immediate damage.

The sufferer will first develop breathlessness and a dry cough. Despite treatment, the cough will gradually get worse as the lungs become inflamed. The lungs may fill with fluid, causing severe shortness of breath. This acute form of silicosis is often fatal, though the individual prognosis will depend on the amount of dust retained in the lung before exposure stopped.

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Treatment of silicosis victims

Most treatments for silicosis are aimed at reducing the symptoms and halting the progress of the disease. The outcome will depend on the amount of damage done to the lungs before the disease is diagnosed. There is no cure and no effective treatment, so prevention by medical monitoring and changes to working practices are essential to removing the risk of exposure to silica.

If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, it is vital that exposure to silica stops immediately, to prevent the disease progressing further.

To improve lung function and reduce inflammation, some treatments can be given and oxygen therapy provided which may improve breathing.

Acute silicosis, which results from exposure to high levels of silica for short periods, is treated with a high dose of steroids, although the prognosis is generally poor.

Respiratory infections can be dealt with by antibiotics but it is important that exposure to other irritants should be minimised. For example, smoking may speed up the progress of the disease, and immunisation against flu and pneumococcal infection is recommended for those suffering from silicosis.

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Industrial disease news stories

Clear Answers' solicitors deal with a large number of industrial disease compensation claims, as well as many other types of personal injury and accident compensation claim cases each year. Details of some of these personal injury compensation claims can be found in our Personal Injury News Section which is updated regularly.

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Making a personal injury compensation claim for silicosis

Clear Answers’ lawyers will be able to advise you whether you have a valid claim for compensation. Our specialist industrial disease lawyers are experts in all personal injury matters and will be happy to talk you through the process of making a claim in plain English and answer any questions or queries you may have.

Telephone us now on 0800 783 9019 or complete one of our online compensation claim forms and one of our representatives will contact you as soon as possible.

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