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Silicosis Compensation Claims Explained. Is Silicosis the new Asbestos Disease?

In this blog, I will be discussing what Silicosis is, why the disease has gained so much attention in recent years and whether it is similar to what the Australian community first confronted many years ago with Asbestos Disease.

According to the Lung Foundation of Australia, Silicosis is:-

“a lung disease mainly caused by inhaling silica, a mineral commonly found in certain types of rock or soil. Silica dust is created when cutting, drilling, grinding or polishing certain types of stone, rock, sand and clay. Over time, inhaling silica dust causes inflammation which leads to scarring of the lung tissue which can cause stiffening of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe”

Types of Silicosis

There are three types of silicosis – acute, accelerated and chronic.

The level of exposure and the length of time a person is exposed will affect the type of silicosis which may develop. Initially, suffers of Silicosis may not notice any symptoms, except in acute silicosis. Over time, as the disease progresses, symptoms slowly develop.


Before a diagnosis is made, a series of tests are likely to be performed including a physical examination, lung-function, chest x-ray, high-resolution CT scan, a 6-minute walk test and an arterial blood gas analysis.

Medical Treatment/Rehabilitation

At the present time, there is no cure for Silicosis but there are a number of medical management strategies including Oxygen Therapy, Medication, Whole Lung Lavage and Lung Transplantation. The Whole Lung Lavage is currently being trialled in Australia and involves washing out each lung with several litres of a salt-water solution with the aim of washing out the silica. For very severe cases of Silicosis, lung transplantation may be considered.


Miners and Stonemasons are the most likely workers to develop Silicosis and compensation is available through WorkCover Queensland.

Stonemasons have been at a particularly high risk due to the very high silica content contained in engineered stone and their risk is from cutting, grinding, sanding and polishing stone benchtops.

In 2018, the Office of Industrial Relations in Queensland introduced new safety measures which including banning uncontrolled dry cutting, improvements in dust control, new measure to ensure workers were using effective respiratory protective equipment and providing health screening and monitoring.

If you have a past history of working in the mines or as a Stonemason in Queensland as a worker for wages and have been recently diagnosed with Silicosis, you are entitled to submit a claim with WorkCover Queensland so that you can receive assistance including reimbursement of medical expenses, weekly compensation if you are unable to work and lump sum compensation.

If your claim with WorkCover Queensland is accepted, you will also have other options and rights available including pursuing a common law claim for damages as against your current and past employers where you were exposed and also against the suppliers and manufacturers of the engineered stone. The full value of each common law claim varies from person to person depending on the severity of their condition, whether the condition is progressing slowly or rapidly, the age of the injured worker and other factors, however, substantial compensation or damages can be recovered and is regularly assessed in the range of $1,000,000.00 to $3,000,000.00.

Silicosis v. Asbestos Disease? – Similarities and Differences

There are some similarities and also some differences between both conditions. Both conditions involve lung disease from toxic dust that is inhaled at work which can have a very serious impact on health and quality of life and can cause death.

Typically, workers diagnosis with asbestos-related lung diseases such as asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma would be diagnosed from at or about the age of say 60 to 80 years of age.

A significant difference with workers being diagnosed with Silicosis is that we have noticed our clients being diagnosed at a much younger age including clients aged in their mid to late 20’s and 30’s.

With compensation claims for asbestos disease there are some similarities with Silicosis claims with statutory compensation being available with WorkCover Queensland and also common law damages which can be pursued against the manufacturers and suppliers of the toxic products.

On 1 March 2023, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners referred to Silicosis as the “Asbestos of the 2020’s” in an article published by Morgan Liotta for News GP. Ms Liotta also referred to Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke who along with state and territory ministers called for a ban on all engineered stone to minimise the risk of exposing workers to silica dust.

Epidemiologists from Curtin University have predicted up to 100,000 cases of silicosis over the next 50 years.

Greg is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading compensation law experts. Greg has a very healthy practice and enjoys providing his clients with superior personal service in every case. Greg is absolutely committed to achieving the best settlement outcomes for his clients while keeping the legal costs down.

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State updated!
Your state has been updated to QLD. Practice areas on compensation law have been updated.