Chronic Silicosis Compensation Claims

Can chronic silicosis compensation claims be made for exposure to silica dust during sandblasting against a past employer?

Chronic Silicosis Compensation Claims

Chronic Silicosis Compensation Claims

Question:

Can chronic silicosis compensation claims be made for exposure to silica dust during sandblasting against a past employer?

Answer:

Sandblasting is one of the most common causes of silicosis, and chronic silicosis compensation claims can be made against a past or present employer when the victim has been placed at an excessive risk of developing the condition. Construction and glass workers are at a high risk of developing chronic silicosis, and employers must take steps to reduce any risk to their employees.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations stipulate that an employer must provide the necessary safety equipment to prevent silica dust and other hazardous substances from entering the lungs. Dust masks must be provided and they must be maintained and replaced as appropriate. When chronic silicosis has developed as a result of lapses in standards in the workplace, or when health and safety equipment was not provided or was faulty, you are entitled to claim compensation for chronic silicosis.

Just as an employer has a duty of care to an employee to ensure that risk is reduced, employees too have a responsibility towards their own health. If dust masks and other safety equipment were provided, but an employee chose not to use them, a claim for chronic silicosis compensation may not be possible.

Chronic silicosis compensation claims are often made by employees long after they have been exposed to harmful substances as, in many cases, chronic silicosis takes years to develop. The symptoms of chronic silicosis can easily be confused with other lung conditions, especially if a doctor is not aware of the industry in which a victim has worked and the chemicals and hazardous substances they were exposed to.

It is not unusual for chronic silicosis compensation claims to be made against a past employer. As with all industrial illness claims for compensation, it will be necessary to prove that a past employer has been negligent and that your illness developed as a direct result of that negligence. A defence may claim that you developed chronic silicosis due to subsequent employment and you will need to prove ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that this was not the case.

Since claims against a past employer can be complicated, especially if there has been a long period between leaving employment and developing an industrial illness, it is strongly advisable to contact a solicitor for advice who has experience in making industrial illness claims. This will help you prepare the strongest possible chronic silicosis compensation claim.

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