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Silicosis* – The Causes and Effects

Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. It is irreversible and, moreover, the disease progresses even when exposure stops. Extremely high exposures are associated with much shorter latency and more rapid disease progression.

Sandblasting has long been linked to the fatal lung disease silicosis. According to the World Health Organisation it is one of the oldest occupational diseases and still kills thousands of people every year, everywhere in the world.

As a result of the Clean Clothes Campaign’s 2010 ‘Killer Jeans’ campaign, many companies have banned the use of sandblasting in their clothing lines, but a new CCC report reveals that regardless of whether a brand has ‘banned’ sandblasting or not, sandblasting – both manual and mechanical – is still commonly used.

The ‘Clean Clothes’ Campaign

The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is asking;

  • Retailers to publicly ban the use of sandblasting in their supply chains;
  • World Health Organisation to recognise the garment industry in its Programme on the Global Elimination of Silicosis
  • For the Irish government to ban the importation of sandblasted denim into Ireland and to propose the wider EU import ban of the same during it’s EU presidency in 2013.

Workman’s Compensation Act, 1934

This act allows for the Minister to permit the implementation of a scheme to provide for the payment of compensation by the employers of workmen in any specified industry or process or group of industries or processes involving exposure to silica dust.

Employers’ duty of care and reasons to make a claim

In order to claim silicosis compensation, it must be determined that your employer was primarily responsible for your inhalation of silica dust. Your employer owes you a duty of care to provide you with a safe working environment and to ensure that no employee is placed at excessive risk of injury or of developing an occupational disease like silicosis. Therefore, it is recommended that you engage a solicitor for legal advice on seeking compensation for silicosis as they can assess your claim and will advise you on collecting evidence of employer negligence.

The failure of an employer to supply appropriate protective personal equipment such as dust masks to employees working in an environment where it was likely that they would inhale silica dust is grounds for making a silicosis compensation claim. If you developed silicosis because of a breach in your employer’s duty of care to provide effective personal safety equipment you will be entitled to make a compensation claim for silicosis.


Our experienced Medical Negligence and Work Injury Solicitors are happy to meet with you to explain the legal options available to you.

For more information or to arrange a meeting with one of our Personal Injury Solicitors please contact Kathrin Coleman or call us on FREEphone 1800 844 104.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002