*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in Western Australia.

For many years silicosis was a condition associated with old retired underground miners or quarry workers. Sadly with the increasing popularity of engineered stone bench tops which have up to 95% crystalline silica content the rate of diagnosis with silicosis is increasing in frequency.

This is due to the work carried out with the benchtops including cutting, grinding and polishing with power tools all of which cause large amounts of silica dust to released into the breathing environments of sufferers.

For stonemasons and other workers diagnosed with silicosis it can be a confronting time. You are often given the diagnosis but with little understanding of what it means other than you need to leave your dusty workplace. There are 3 forms of silicosis recognised by WorkSafe WA: acute silicosis, accelerated silicosis and chronic silicosis with each type the result of varying exposure periods. For this who have been diagnosed with silicosis may have the following compensation entitlements:-

  1. A claim may be able to be made under the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 (WA) (“the Act“) for weekly wages, medical expenses, return to work training and other expenses if you are unfit for work.
  2. A common law claim may be able to be commenced against your employer and former employers if the Industrial Disease Medical Assessment Panel (“IDMAP“) at WorkCover WA determine you suffer from a dust disease within the meaning of the Act causing at least a 15% impairment or the parties agree you are more than 15% impaired.

In any diagnosis with silicosis it is important you seek to minimise you dust exposure so as to minimise any further damage being caused to you lungs.

This is where a person’s workers compensation entitlements come in to play as it allows for sufferers to take steps to remove themselves from the dangerous environment while they plan for their next career move.

Strict time limits apply to lodging workers compensation claims for silicosis and bringing a common law claim for compensation. Therefore it is imperative if you are diagnosed with silicosis or the more advance massive pulmonary fibrosis that you seek legal advice as a matter of urgency.

If you believe you have been exposed to silica dust, and would like obligation free advice on your compensation entitlements, please do not hesitate to contact us on 08 9325 0900.