Black Lung, Silicosis, Asbestos Exposure and other Dust Diseases

Most (but not all) dust disease compensation claims involve exposure to:

  • Coal dust

  • Silica

  • Asbestos

If you have suffered injury or illness as a result of exposure to industrial dusts in your work environment, we can assist you with your compensation entitlements.

We are a leading law firm in this area, with a strong track record in obtaining compensation for victims of dust related diseases and their families.

We offer a free initial consultation and can act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.

Call for advice or assistance: 1800 659 114

Coal dust exposure claims (‘Black Lung’)

Decades after the disease was thought to have been eradicated, black lung, also known as Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP), has returned to Australian coalfields, with a number of cases identified since 2015. While compensation for black lung won’t undo its damage, it will facilitate access to health care and financial support that will make living with the disease easier.

Hall Payne has significant experience and knowledge relevant to the mining industry to expertly assist anyone affected by black lung. We are the leading law firm in this area, with a strong track record in obtaining compensation for black lung victims and challenging claims rejected by insurers.

We can act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis and offer a free initial consultation and discounted rates to CFMMEU members.

Silicosis claims

Silicosis is a type of pneumoconiosis that affects the lungs. The disease is contracted through the inhalation of free silica; a category of dusts that contain silicon dioxide. Approximately half the composition of earth’s crust is silicon dioxide. The most common form of silica dust found in workplaces is quartz; the same basic material found in sand.

Silica is the generic term used to refer to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) or crystalline quartz.

Silica is toxic to the human body in several ways but principally it is fibro genic, meaning that it promotes the growth of fibrous tissue in the lungs.  The symptoms of silicosis can develop anywhere from a few weeks to 30 years after exposure and include:

  • chest tightness and pain;
  • breathlessness;
  • coughing;
  • weight loss;
  • inflamed lungs; and

While medical advancements are being made in the treatment of silicosis, it is currently incurable and can lead to disability and death. Silicosis can also contribute to the development of:

  • lung cancer;
  • renal cancer;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and
  • progressive massive fibrosis.

Silica dust is widely encountered in extractive industries, in the manufacture of many concrete based building materials, and is widespread in manufacturing processes. Key industries at risk of exposure include:

  • stonemasonry;
  • tunnelling;
  • foundries;
  • cement manufacturing;
  • brick and tile manufacturing;
  • construction;
  • quarrying; and

Duties that involve grinding, cutting, or otherwise demolishing materials such as concrete, rock, metals, or any other work that generates airborne dust pose a risk of exposure.

The risks are much greater where the material contains high levels of silica, for example, engineered stone products used in kitchens and bathrooms throughout Australia.

The use of engineered stone has gained prominence due to its relative affordability compared to natural products. Unfortunately, the growing popularity of this product over the past 20 years has had devastating health consequences for those working in the industry.

Hall Payne has been fortunate to work hand in hand with the CFMMEU to develop policies and procedures to better manage the risks caused by exposure to silica.  

As a consequence of being at the forefront of change in this area, Hall Payne has developed significant experience and knowledge relevant to the construction industry to expertly assist anyone affected by silicosis. We are a leading law firm in this area, with a strong track record in obtaining compensation for silicosis victims and their families.

We offer a free initial consultation and can act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.

Asbestos Claims

Asbestos occurs naturally in the environment as bundles of fibres. These fibres can be separated into thin, durable threads for use in commercial and industrial products. Since the early 1900s, asbestos has been used commercially in a number of industries throughout Australia.

For example, it has been used widely in the construction industry for strengthening cement and plastics as well as insulation, roofing, cladding, fireproofing and sound proofing. It has been used during the construction of ships and steam trains to insulate boilers, steam pipes and hot water pipes. It has been used by the automotive industry in motor vehicle brakes and clutch pads.

Given its far reaching application, individuals throughout Australia are at risk of being exposed to asbestos at work, home or in their communities.

When asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can get trapped in the lungs and can accumulate over time causing scarring and inflammation.  The symptoms of an asbestos related disease can include:

  • chest tightness and pain;
  • breathlessness;
  • coughing;
  • weight loss;
  • inflamed lungs; and

The use of asbestos in Australia was gradually phased out during the 1980s and replaced with asbestos free products. A complete ban on the import, storage, supply and installation of asbestos materials did not occur until December 2003. 

The asbestos ban in Australia does not apply to asbestos material already in place. Due to the widespread use of asbestos materials in Australia since the 1950s, Australia has a large number of asbestos containing materials still remaining in the built environment. This poses a significant health risk to all Australians.

Hall Payne has dedicated asbestos disease lawyers to expertly assist anyone suffering from an asbestos related disease including mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural plaques or any other condition which has resulted from exposure to asbestos fibres.

We offer a free initial consultation and can act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.

What can I do if I’ve been diagnosed with a dust disease?

If you are diagnosed with a dust related disease, contact us directly to discuss compensation or contact your Union to get a referral to our legal service.

What compensation might I be entitled to if I have a dust disease?

If you have been diagnosed with a dust disease, then you or your family may be entitled to workers’ compensation or common law damages in Queensland, which can include payments for:

  • loss of income;
  • rehabilitation;
  • medical expenses;
  • pain and suffering;
  • past and future economic loss;
  • loss of superannuation;
  • out-of-pocket expenses.

Entitlements vary from case to case, and the best way to know if you have a claim worth pursuing is to get advice from a lawyer with experience in dust disease cases.

I haven’t worked for years and have just been diagnosed with a dust disease. Can I still make a claim?

Yes.

All conditions involving exposure to dust, have what is termed a lengthy ‘latency period’, meaning that symptoms may not present for many years. In the case of black lung or silicosis, such period can be as short as 5 or so years. For asbestos, the period is usually longer (10 or more years).

Very strict time limits apply to all claims involving exposure to dust, so it is very important to seek expert legal advice as soon as after you have been diagnosed with a dust disease.

When should I make a claim?

Again, very strict time limits apply to all claims involving exposure to respirable dust. It is therefore extremely important to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible after you have been diagnosed with a dust disease.

The law regarding claims for compensation involving dust disease is complicated. Contact Hall Payne for a free initial consultation to discuss your eligibility and all other aspects of your claim.

How long will my claim take?

Every claim is different.

Once the specific circumstances of your situation are known, one of our lawyers can provide an estimate of the likely timeframe that may apply to your matter, and will continue to update you as the matter proceeds.

What if my claim is rejected?

It is not uncommon for a claim to be rejected at first instance.

Hall Payne has a strong track record of successfully challenging unfavourable decisions so don’t give up if your claim is initially rejected.

If your claim is rejected you have a right to apply for Review of the decision by the Workers Compensation Regulator.

Strict time limits apply. You generally only have 3 months from receipt of an adverse decision to lodge an application with the Regulator. It is important to obtain legal advice before you lodge your Application for Review.

Engaging a lawyer early in the review process will increase your chances of successfully overturning an unfavourable decision.  At Hall Payne, we can help you navigate the Review and Appeal process and protect your entitlements.

How much will it cost to make a claim?

Hall Payne will provide you with a free initial consultation to discuss your injury and the circumstances in which it arose.

We will provide an estimate of legal costs once we’ve spoken with you. If we consider you have prospects of winning your case, we will represent you on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis which means you don’t pay our legal fees unless you win.

Speak to one of our experts


1800 659 114
general@hallpayne.com.au

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