Silicosis which is also known as “Potter’s Rot” is an occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust which produces inflammation and scarring in the upper area of the lungs. Silica is a common compound that is found in a number of materials such as sandstone, marble, flint, slate, soil, mortar, plaster and sand. Therefore, any professions where workers are involved with the breaking, crushing, drilling, grinding, cutting or blasting of such materials may be at risk of exposure to levels of silica dust which when inhaled can lead to silicosis.

Different types of silicosis

Simple chronic silicosis

This form of the disease is the most common form of silicosis. It is developed over a long period of time (20 years or more) and is caused through low levels of exposure to silica dust. Sufferers may not be aware that they have this form of silicosis as the early stages of the disease may not have any clear symptoms other than coughing or lack of breath.

Accelerated silicosis

This will occur when a person has been exposed to higher volumes of silica dust over a shorter period of time (approximately 5 – 10 years). Symptoms are similar to those of chronic silicosis, but accelerated silicosis tends to develop faster and there is a heightened risk of complications associated with this type of silicosis such as progressive massive fibrosis (PMF).

Acute silicosis

Individuals with acute silicosis will start to develop symptoms within several weeks to up to 5 years and it is caused by the sufferer being exposed to very high levels of silica dust. This type of silicosis develops the fastest and symptoms include severe shortness of breath, cough, weakness, and weight loss. In severe cases acute silicosis can cause death.

Silicosis symptoms

A list of symptoms that can be associated with the pneumoconiosis disease silicosis are –

  • Blue tinged skin (cyanosis)
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Heart disease
  • Nail abnormalities
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Weight loss

Complications that can arise due to the presence of silicosis are tuberculosis (TB), chronic bronchitis, compensatory emphysema, and pneumothorax.

Silicosis injury compensation claims

If you are suffering from silicosis as a consequence of your work environment then you may be able to claim compensation for your injury.