Last updated on November 15th, 2021
Pneumoconiosis is an occupational lung disease that results from breathing in certain types of airborne dusts that are present in some workplaces.
There are different types of pneumoconiosis. Each one is caused by a different type of dust. Exposure to asbestos, coal and silica dust are some of the most common workplace mineral dusts that cause the symptoms of this disease.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Pneumoconiosis
Breathing in any type of dusts does not cause pneumoconiosis. It is only exposure to certain types of dust that puts workers at higher risk of developing the symptoms.
- Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis. The symptoms of this condition can develop even 10 to 20 years after the first exposure.
- Inhaling silica dust can cause silicosis. Silica dust is usually found in sand, rock, granite, sandstone, slate and clay. Stone masons, miners, foundry workers and sandblasters are most susceptible to this condition.
- Berylliosis is caused by inhaling airborne dust of beryllium, a lightweight but strong metal that is used extensively in the aerospace, nuclear power and electronics industries.
- Coal miners are at high risk of developing symptoms of CWP or Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis because of their extensive exposure to coal dust. Coal miners may also be at risk of silicosis from having to drill into rock, which is composed of silica.
- Byssinosis is caused by the inhalation of airborne vegetable fibres such as hemp, flax, sisal and cotton.
- Exposure to kaolin dust from working with ceramics, medicines, cosmetics and paper, causes Kaolin pneumoconiosis.
- Siderosis also known as welders’ lung results from inhaling the dust generated when working with iron particles.
Workers who are employed in the mining, iron, shipbuilding, construction and ceramics industries are at highest risk for developing the symptoms of pneumoconiosis. The symptoms of the specific type of pneumoconiosis develop when the particular dust is inhaled and retained in the lungs.
Symptoms Of Pneumoconiosis
The exact symptoms that a person develops depend on the particular dust that they inhaled. Some of the symptoms that are common across all conditions include scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue, chest pain, laboured or rapid breathing, shortness of breath and persistent cough.
In most cases, higher exposure over extended periods of time can put the worker at higher risk of the disease.
The biggest challenge in diagnosing this condition is that in most cases it can take as long as 10 years from the time of exposure to the onset of symptoms. This is why the disease is most commonly diagnosed in workers who have long retired. The symptoms reflect their earlier working conditions.
What Are Your Next Steps After Diagnosis?
If you have worked in any of the high-risk industries mentioned and you develop symptoms related to pneumoconiosis, it is very important to first get a professional diagnosis so that you can start on the appropriate treatment immediately.
If you have been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, chances are high you would have contracted the disease while you were working in a particular workplace. A professional diagnosis will also help to demonstrate the link between the symptoms and the possible cause of the disease. This will help support your claim should you decide to file for compensation for your injuries.
In the UK, there are a few measures that have been put in place with regards to this condition. If pneumoconiosis is confirmed, doctors are required to get permission from the individual and notify their employer of the diagnosis. The employer is then required to notify the HSE or Health and Safety Executive, immediately. The HSE works independently to monitor work-related health, safety and illness and reduce injury and death in the workplace.
Filing A Pneumoconiosis Compensation Claim
There are legal provisions made that allow workers with a confirmed diagnosis to file a pneumoconiosis compensation claim against their employer even if the individual has retired from the company or no longer works with the company for any other reason.
All employers have a duty of care towards their workers. This means they have to do everything possible to ensure that their workers work in an environment that is risk-free. This includes providing the appropriate equipment for the job, the highest quality protective gear and adequate training in safe work practices. Failure to meet these obligations can make the employer liable in cases of industrial illness.
According to the Control of Hazardous Substances Act passed in 2002, employers are legally required to conduct thorough risk assessments to identify potential hazards and put appropriate measures in place to protect workers who may come into contact with them. Potential hazards also include exposure to harmful dusts such as asbestos and silica.
Exposing workers to dangerous dusts in the workplace without providing them with protective breathing apparatus contravenes the Control of Hazardous Substances Act as well as the workers safety act.
If you develop the disease because of lack of adequate protection from toxic dusts, your employer may be held liable for negligence of duty of care and you may be entitled to file a pneumoconiosis claim for compensation.
The biggest obstacle to filing a compensation claim for pneumoconiosis is the long latency period of the disease. By the time the symptoms develop and the diagnosis is confirmed, several companies may have relocated or shut down. Locating the employer and their insurer can delay and complicate the process. However, it is not impossible.
Pneumoconiosis Personal Injury Solicitors
Hiring one of our in-house experienced personal injury solicitors can help to make the process easier and faster. Filing a compensation claim for pneumoconiosis is important as it can help you get the financial aid you need to fund the medical treatment that you will require to manage the symptoms and live a better quality of life.
If you have a good case to make a pneumoconiosis compensation claim, our personal injury solicitors do not charge any legal fees upfront. Once we have won you compensation, you will only then have to pay any fee which is simply a set percentage of your total award amount. Known as a No Win No Fee agreement, this was introduced as a way to help people with inadequate funding to get justice for injuries sustained in the workplace due to no fault of theirs.
We shall explain clearly what fee we charge before you agree for our law firm to take your pneumoconiosis claim on.