Silica dust is being called the new asbestos.

Authorities have even gone as far as to say it could be worse than asbestos. This appears to be because of the large number of stonemasons in their 20s and 30s being diagnosed with silicosis as a direct result of dry cutting of artificial stone benchtops without adequate protective equipment.

So what is silica and what is silicosis?

Silica is a crystalline mineral found in sand, soil, concrete granite, rock and stone and silicosis is scarring on the lungs caused by the inhalation of silica dust.

At least 135 stonemasons have been diagnosed with silicosis in Queensland and Victoria in the last 6 months. This number is set to increase as workers in Western Australia and New South Wales begin to undergo testing. Testing is imperative particularly for those who have been exposed to silica dust and experience shortness of breath, a cough or chest pain, symptoms commonly associated with silicosis.  Testing will include CT scans, chest x-rays, lung function tests and assessments with respiratory physicians. These tests will not only seek to determine whether or not a person suffers from silicosis but also whether they suffer from another silica dust disease such as lung cancer, silicotic nodules, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis and scleroderma.

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. Importantly, strict time limits apply to the different States of Australia and it is therefore imperative you seek legal advice if you have been diagnosed with a silica related disease.