You are at risk of silicosis if you work with quartz, sand, stone, soil, granite, brick, cement, grout, mortar, bitumen or engineered stone products.
These materials contain the mineral silica and working with them can create a very fine dust that's easily inhaled. Once inside your lungs, the dust particles can scar the lungs. This scarring is known as silicosis.
You are at risk of developing silicosis if your work involves:
Not everyone who works with silica dust develops silicosis. The chances of getting silicosis will depend on many factors, including how much silica dust you come into contact with, and for how long you were exposed to it.
The 3 common types of silicosis are:
All 3 types affect you in the same way. The difference is how long it takes for problems to develop.
The main symptoms of silicosis are shortness of breath, chest pain, cough and tiredness. But in the early stages of silicosis, there may be no symptoms.
The symptoms become severe as the condition gets worse. Eventually, you might find simple activities such as walking or climbing stairs difficult. You might also have trouble sleeping and eating properly.
If you develop the symptoms of silicosis, make an urgent appointment with your doctor if you work, or have worked, with products that create silica dust.
At the appointment, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and work history. The doctor will examine you and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope.
Tell the doctor about your exposure to silica dust and whether you were issued with any safety equipment, such as a face mask, when you were working.
The doctor may send you for tests such as:
Unfortunately, the damage to your lungs can't be reversed. But your doctor can offer treatments such as inhalers and oxygen therapy to improve your breathing and your quality of life.
Your doctor might also suggest that stop smoking (if you smoke), have regular tests to check for tuberculosis (TB), and have the annual flu jab.
Silicosis can be prevented if you:
All workplaces, employers and employees in Australia must comply with their workplace health and safety procedures.
For more information please follow this link Occupational Cancer Risk