Major lung disease can be encountered many years after the first hazardous dust exposure. Once the first symptoms appear, the disease can even be in the late stages. As the victim most likely to be unaware of the progressing disease, all workers with work experience in specific industries should have their conditions checked. The most fatal airway diseases are asbestosis and silicosis, which can be found in warehouses, stone-cutting manufactories, mines and constructions. Workers in these industries should ensure that their working equipment provides sufficient protection.
The worker’s loss is compensable; however, major lung and airway disease can last permanently and be painful. Under the laws, employers of these workplaces should provide equipment and gears sufficient to protect the worker from the hazardous dust. If the employer fails to do so, he/she can be charged with intentional negligence and will be liable for the worker’s injuries.
Workers compensation and lethal dust diseases
Asbestosis, silicosis and suchlike dust diseases can leave permanent damages on the respiratory system of the victim. On the other hand, laws give the option to claim compensation to the victim, which can be very beneficial for recovering the loss. The compensation mostly includes weekly payments for the victim whilst being off work due to the disease, payments for medical expenses and lump sum payment for impairment and decreased earning capacity.
The process can be confusing as the necessary investigation for the claim will include since the day of first dust exposure. Which means, the workers’ almost entire work history will be taken into consideration to determine the employer’s liability. However, this might not be necessary as workers compensation is based on the no-fault system and the worker can still receive compensation payments regardless of negligence that caused the injuries/diseases.
Employer’s liability in hazardous dust exposure
In no circumstances, the employees should be exposed to dust without necessary protective equipment. Additionally, not every equipment can be protective enough to dust exposure. The employers must make sure the equipment provided to workers is suitable for industrial usage. Silicosis and asbestosis are preventable to a large extent. As these diseases are preventable, it is expected of the employer to protect his/her workers just as a reasonable employer would. In workers compensation claims, the infected worker’s negligence isn’t taken into consideration whilst determining eligibility for compensation. However, the employer’s negligence can cause them trouble.
How to claim dust disease compensation
Depending on the uniqueness of the situation, the extent of the compensation that is to be awarded might differ. Generally, compensation includes monetary damages to cover the victim’s loss. Such dust diseases are known for leaving permanent damages on the victim. Due to the victim’s loss in the functions of organs, the victim might not be able to work and earn in the foreseeable future. The aim of the compensation is to provide lump sum payment to workers whose capacity to earn has reduced drastically and with permanent impairment.
Evaluation of the infected worker’s impairment, capacity to perform daily exercises independently and reaching a conclusion to determine the compensable loss can be a long process. The claimant should give a huge effort to the claim and support his/her claim with documents and evidence that can shorten the process. On the other hand, a dust disease lawyer can also follow the process for you, lead you through the process and once necessary, fight for your rights.
Luckily in Australia, workers suffering injuries can benefit from a lawyer’s services free of charge as Workers Compensation Independent Review Office – WIRO covers the lawyer fees to support workers in need.