If you’ve been affected by pneumoconiosis, because of occupational hazards, this post may be of assistance to you.
Occupational illnesses can be life-changing and don’t generally affect just one area of a person’s life.
What is Pneumoconiosis?
According to John Hopkins Medicine pneumoconiosis is one of a group of interstitial lung disease caused by breathing in certain kinds of dust particles that damage your lungs.
Pneumoconiosis is an industrial illness caused by inhalation of certain kinds of dusts, like silica dust, asbestos and coal dust.
The illness is divided into different types, including silicosis, asbestosis and black lung disease.
People who are exposed to high concentrations of mineral dusts at their places of work are at a high risk of developing pneumoconiosis.
Additionally, inadequate or not utilised personal safety equipment, like respirators, can lead to pneumoconiosis.
Symptoms of Pneumoconiosis
One of the biggest challenges with pneumoconiosis diagnosis is that people who have it are usually asymptomatic in the initial stages.
The timespan between the exposure to the disease and the onset of pneumoconiosis symptoms may be as long as ten years.
That’s why many pneumoconiosis diagnoses are made in workers who have already retired from their jobs.
Here are some of the common symptoms of pneumoconiosis:
- Persistent cough with or without mucous
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath, especially after doing a physical activity like waking or going up a staircase
- Laboured breathing
- Inflammation of lung tissue
If you have had previous exposure to hazardous dusts at your workplace, and are experiencing such symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
If you concerned there was negligence in the workplace, your solicitor can provide you with a case assessment regarding a pneumoconiosis injury claim.
Inhaling any kind of dust will not result in pneumoconiosis. The disease can only be caused by exposure to particular types of dusts at high concentrations or for long periods. Here are some of the causes of pneumoconiosis:
- Asbestos Fibres: Inhaling airborne asbestos fibres has been known to cause asbestosis, which can take 10-20 years from the first exposure to showcase any symptoms
- Silica Dust: Exposure to silica dust, which is typically present in sand, granite, slate, rock, clay and sandstone, can lead to silicosis. Miners, sandblasters, masons and foundry workers are extremely susceptible to silicosis
- Beryllium Dust: Breathing in beryllium dust can cause berylliosis. Beryllium is a strong, yet lightweight metal that is widely utilized in aerospace, nuclear energy and electronics sectors
- Coal Dust: Coal miners are constantly exposed to coal dust at their workplace, which makes them susceptible to developing Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis
- Vegetable Fibres: Inhaling airborne fibres of cotton, flax, hemp, sisal, and other certain types of vegetables may lead to byssinosis
- Kaolin Dust: The manufacture of ceramic, medications, cosmetic products and paper exposes workers to kaolin dust, which can result in Kaolin pneumoconiosis
- Dust From Iron Particles: Working with iron particles exposes workers to siderosis, which is also called welders’ lung
Diagnosis & Treatment
Pneumoconiosis is diagnosed by assessing patient details, such as:
- Medical history, including information about the symptoms and exposure
- Physical examinations
- Breathing tests
- Chest X-ray or a chest CT scan: The x-ray or scan helps the doctor to check the existence of nodules, inflammation areas, pneumonia or excess lung fluid
At times, more invasive tests might be done to diagnose the illness.
The assessment may include a bronchoscopy, obtaining a fluid sample to check for infection, or extracting small biopsy specimens of lung tissues. Surgery might also be necessary to extract a bigger biopsy sample.
Treatment of pneumoconiosis is very difficult. Most treatments for people suffering from the illness are targeted at limiting more lung damage, reducing symptoms and enhancing life quality.
Patients might be treated with inhalers if they display asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) symptoms.
In addition, a pulmonary rehab program might be recommended to enhance a patient’s exercise capability.
Oxygen is usually prescribed for those with low levels of oxygen. In rare cases, a patient may be referred for a lung transplant.
Employers Duty of Care & Negligence
According to the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Section 8), employers have a duty to ensure employee safety and:
- Provide a safe workplace
- Ensure that no improper conduct takes place
- Provide a safe plant or equipment
- Offer a safe working system
- Provide safety information, training and supervision to workers
- Make a risk assessment and implement protective measures
- Provide protective clothing and equipment where hazards can’t be fully eliminated
- Make and revise emergency plans as necessary
- Guard against the hazards of certain substances or articles
- Offer and maintain welfare facilities
- Provide a competent individual to ensure workplace safety and health
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment protects you against safety and health risks at work.
Respiratory protective equipment is essential in protecting lungs when there are risks of exposure in the workplace.
Workplaces that have chemicals/dusts/particles that affect the bodies internal systems, increase the requirements at work in terms safety maintenance.
Case Assessment Advice
If you are suffering from pneumoconiosis caused by your work duties, you can contact us by telephone or email and we will have an initial meeting with you to explore the facts and furnish a case opinion to you.
If you have been affected by occupational pneumoconiosis due to employer negligence, your solicitor can advise of the process regarding a pneumoconiosis injury claim.
Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.
Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.
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