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The Risk of Developing Chronic Silicosis at Work

Chronic silicosis is an occupational respiratory disease resulting from the inhalation of silica dust for twenty years or more. After inhalation, the minutest particles of the silica dust settle and accumulate in the air sacs of the lungs inducing inflammation and causing scarring. The damage to the air sacs prevents gas exchange and impairs normal breathing. It can spread to the lung tissues causing further damage resulting in death in some acute cases.

It takes from twenty to forty five years from the initial inhalation of silica dust before chronic silicosis develops to a level where symptoms start to appear. They can remain undetected in the early years even with the use of x-rays. And when symptoms start to appear, the disease is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia, pulmonary edema, or even tuberculosis since the symptoms are common to all of these illnesses.

What are the Symptoms of Chronic Silicosis?

Symptoms of this disease include shortness of breath after even the slightest physical exertion, fever, cyanosis, fatigue, chest pains and severe chronic coughing. All of which are common symptoms of pneumonia, tuberculosis, and pulmonary edema. Unless the attending physician is aware of the patient’s exposure to crystalline silica dust, he won’t be able to diagnose the condition correctly.

Who are at Risk?

Silica can be found on rock beds and mining, tunneling, and quarrying operations usually produce silica dust putting workers in this industry at risk with chronic silicosis. Silica is also present in the sand used by sand blasters and glass workers that put them at risk of developing the same industrial disease. Other industries that may expose its workers to silica dust include the abrasives manufacturing, road and building construction, and stone cutting.

Under work safety legislation, employers have to provide protective gear to limit the amount of silica dust workers inhale. Unfortunately, no protective equipment can totally eliminate the inhalation of minute silica dust crystals and prolonged inhalation may just the same lead to chronic silicosis.

When to make a Chronic Silicosis Compensation Claim

There is a 2 year statute of limitation for making personal injury claims in the Ireland which limits the period for filing claims to 3 years from the time the accident causing the injury happened. In the case of Chronic Silicosis that takes 20 to 45 years to develop, the 2 year prescription period to file a claim starts when the claimant first gained knowledge of his condition which should be right after a qualified medical professional has correctly diagnosed the condition.

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