Getting Compensation for Black Lung

Stethoscope and magnifying glass kept on lung X-ray

Black lung is a common term used for several respiratory diseases that occur from breathing in dust from coal, graphite or man-made carbon. The most common form of the disease is coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. The risk of getting this disease depends on how often you are exposed to these substances and for how long.

Black lung occurs when particulates from these dusts sit in the lung, progressively building over time and etching their delicate passageways with dark scars and hard nodules. Most people diagnosed with black lung over in their 50s or 60s after decades of frequent exposure.

Types of Black Lung

Black lung can appear in two forms:

  • Simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP) – This is an early form of black lung, where nodules appear in areas the dust has aggravated. People living in cities with poor air quality can also be diagnosed with CWP, not just coal workers.
  • Progressive massive fibrosis or complicated CWP – This version of the disease occurs when simple CWP has progressed due to continued exposure, causing large masses of dense fibrosis to sit in the lungs and limit lung function.

There is no cure for these diseases, so it is essential to get assessed if you develop symptoms. Those diagnosed with CWP should avoid further exposure to prevent the disease from progressing.

Symptoms of Black Lung

Symptoms of simple CWP include shortness of breath and a chronic cough. Additional symptoms associated with progressive massive fibrosis also include:

  • Inflammation
  • Lung dysfunction
  • Black phlegm
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Heart problems

Black lung can lead to chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory failure, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, cor pulmonale (failure to the right side of the heart) and death.

Prevalence of Black Lung in Australia

In Australia, the amount of people who have died from black lung has decreased since the 1950’s as technological improvements have allowed the disease to be detected earlier. Only 1 in every 100,000 people die from the disease today. However, many coal mine workers suffer debilitating health issues related to black lung.

The Queensland Government has enacted laws that deliver stronger workers’ compensation protections for those with black lung and associated dust diseases in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis) and Other Legislation Bill 2017.

Compensation for Black Lung

Certain precautions should be taken to reduce the chance of developing the condition and reduce its effects. This includes wearing a protective mask, taking regular breaks in fresh air and avoiding smoking, which can exacerbate the effects of the dust.

If you develop black lung due to exposure in the workplace, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Workers can access compensation to help them access the medical support they require and improve their quality of life.

Need Advice for a Worker’s Compensation in Queensland?

If you are a coal mine worker and have developed black lung due to exposure in the workplace, you should contact an experienced compensation lawyer to evaluate your case and determine whether you are eligible for compensation.

If you need a qualified lawyer in Brisbane or the Gold Coast, get in touch with the team at Dwyer Law Group. We have more than 30 years of experience dealing with a variety of claims for compensation. Contact us online or call us on 07 5610 5277 and ask about our ‘No Win, No Fee’ policy.

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