Work-Related Silicosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to dust at work.

Silica is one of the most common minerals on earth, usually found as quartz but also part of sand, gravel, clay, granite, and many other forms of rock. It is tiny and breathing it in can cause silicosis,  and contribute to lung cancer, tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The types of jobs where people are exposed to silica dust include: Most people get silicosis because they’re exposed to silica dust at work. Jobs in these fields may put you at higher risk:


Steel industry


Plaster or drywall installation

Glass manufacturing

Road repair





Countertop manufacturing and installation

In silicosis, silica builds up over time in the lungs and breathing passages. This leads to scarring that makes it hard to breathe.

Acute: Symptoms happen a few weeks up to 2 years after exposure to a large amount of silica.

Chronic: Problems may not show up until decades after exposure to low or moderate amounts of silica. It’s the most common type of silicosis. Symptoms may be mild at first and slowly worsen.

Accelerated : Signs appear about 5 to 10 years after heavy exposure to silica. They’ll worsen quickly.

These steps at work can help prevent silica exposure:

Limit the time exposed to silica.

Wear a mask or other protective clothing while working around it.

Use blasting cabinets and proper ventilation.

Use wet methods to cut, chip, or grind materials.

Swap blasting material that contains silica for other types.

Use respirators that protect from inhaling silica.

Don’t eat or drink near silica dust.

Wash your hands and face before you eat.

Shower and change clothes after work.

If a worker is diagnosed with silicosis or a related disease and the doctor says it is related to his or her job, then there should be workers compensation benefits available to pay for medical treatment and missed time from work. If silicosis prevents a man or woman from returning to work, there can be permanent disability benefits available to help compensate for the damage done to a person’s earning capacity. Clearly, the medical issues are the important ones, but workers compensation money can provide some security so the injured worker can focus on his or health and their time with family and friends.

McCormick Law get the best workers compensation settlements for work-related silicosis when there is documentation of the materials worked with and an opinion from the worker’s doctor that the condition is work-related. For more information see this solid NPR article on work-related silicosis.