Dust diseases occur as a result of past exposure to asbestos. Where an exposure has occurred, asbestosis, mesothelioma and other cancers can result.
Exposure can have occurred as a result of:
- direct contact with asbestos through work, typically work in the building industry or heavy industry such as manufacture of power plants or ships where asbestos was used in cladding. Exposure could have also occurred whilst working in machine workshops or simply visiting a workshop that contained asbestos dust.
- indirect exposure from, for example, washing clothes containing asbestos fibres,
- working or growing up in a town that had asbestos, or
- building or renovating a house that contained asbestos sheeting or other products.
It is important to note that past exposure to asbestos does not automatically mean that an individual will in time, go onto develop an asbestos related disease. On the contrary, the development of the diseases appears to be very selective. Workers and individuals who have had significant exposure may remain in good health. In some cases, workers and individuals who have had minor exposure develop a dust disease.
Workers and other individuals can develop other respiratory illnesses such as asthma as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals such as paints. These cases are dealt with as workers compensation claims or public liability claims.
Who is the claim made against?
A detailed history needs to be obtained of an individual’s work history, in particular their exposure to asbestos, and their medical history including smoking. It does not matter if you cannot remember your work history in detail, if you were exposed to asbestos decades ago or if you were exposed overseas or have smoked.
Subject to a person’s history, the claim may be made against Queensland’s WorkCover.
Common law claims can also be brought against James Hardie and Seltsam Pty Ltd (the manufacturer of Wunderlich) . Both of these corporations manufactured the bulk of asbestos products used in Australia during the last century.
What can you claim?
A range of benefits are claimable dependable upon an individual’s circumstances and whether a claim is made to WorkCover and whether a common law claim is also brought.
Additional benefits may also be available for dependents.
How do I make a claim?
Dust disease claims are complex. They are additionally complex if you are unwell or dealing with the stress of a diagnosis or undergoing treatment. We recommend that you consult a solicitor. We are experienced in the field.
How long will it take to resolve my claim?
Typically, a claim can be resolved in 3 to 6 months though shorter timeframes are possible, especially when a client is very ill.