Dust Diseases Care was formed to provide treatment and financial support to workers who have a disability as a result of a compensable dust disease contracted in a NSW workplace.
We also provide lung screening services that employers can organise for workers at risk of being exposed to harmful dust.
Eligible workers living with a dust disease can receive financial support from us. We can also pay for medical treatment and services such as walking aids, home modifications and at-home nursing care.
What is a dust disease?
Dust diseases are a group of lung illnesses caused by inhaling certain products when they are in powder or dust form. Most of the dust diseases that we see are caused by asbestos dust.
Dust diseases are most often contracted in work environments where workers are exposed to or handle products and materials containing harmful dusts such as asbestos.
Dust exposed workplaces commonly include:
- Home building sites
- Commercial construction sites
- Import and waterside precincts
- Logistics and trucking industries
- Excavations and tunnel works
- Workshops where Caesar stone is cut.
Dusts that can cause diseases when inhaled:
- Crystalline silica
- Hard metals, for example tungsten, cobalt
- Aluminium, beryllium
- Bagasse, cotton and mouldy hay
- Straw or grain.
Workplace dust can be inhaled when:
- Dust is created - usually by cutting, sanding, drilling or grinding
- When it's disturbed, for example during building renovations or during earthworks.
The risk of developing a dust disease is low. The risk of disease may increase with increased exposure to dust.
Symptoms of dust diseases
The symptoms of dust diseases are similar to many other respiratory illnesses. Dust diseases can be diagnosed through medical tests.
Common disease symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or abnormal breathing
- Chest pain
- Mucus in the airways (sputum production)
Dust diseases do not generally appear until many years after exposure. They can cause benign thickening or scarring of lung tissue. Asbestos dust can also cause lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.
Getting a health check
If you think you may have been exposed to harmful dust while employed in a NSW workplace, we can arrange a free medical assessment.
This can include:
- X-rays of your lungs
- CT Scans
- A lung function test
- A medical consultation.
This may be done via our mobile lung screening service, at our offices in Sydney's CBD, or possibly in your hometown if you live far from us. To arrange a free medical examination, complete the request for a medical examination form or contact us on 1800 550 027.
For more information download our Medical examination fact sheet below.
Applying for care
If you have a disability related to a dust disease contracted in a NSW workplace, we encourage you and your family to contact us so we can understand your situation and assess your eligibility for care.
To apply for care, you will need to complete and submit an application for compensation form. Once we've received your application, we can arrange medical examinations on your behalf and work with medical providers to obtain the medical reports we need to assess your eligibility for care.
We’re here to help every step of the way, so if you are unsure or need assistance, please contact us on 1800 550 027.
For additional information visit the NSW Government Workers' Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act.
Dust diseases we cover
- Asbestos induced carcinoma
- Asbestos related pleural diseases
- Coal dust pneumoconiosis
- Diffuse dust-related pulmonary fibrosis
- Farmers’ lung
- Hard metal pneumoconiosis
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Pneumoconiosis (any form)
- Silica-induced carcinoma of the lung
- Systemic sclerosis
We may also cover other conditions affecting the lungs, pleura or peritoneum that can also cause one of the diseases in the list above.
However, these conditions must be related to an exposure to dust that then leads to one of the above diseases.
Dust diseases we do not cover
Unfortunately, there are some circumstances and diseases, we don’t cover.
For instance we don’t cover dust diseases contracted by coal miners in or around coal mining, as worker’s compensation for coal miners can be found via Coal Mines Insurance.
We do not cover Pleural Plaques because the condition is not reported as a dust disease resulting in a level of disability that would prevent someone from continuing work.
To learn more about dust diseases and other construction health risks, visit SafeWork.
Your eligibility to apply for support through Dust Diseases Care is determined by three major criteria:
- A medical diagnosis of a dust disease covered by our scheme
- Evidence that the exposure to harmful dust occurred while you were employed in NSW
- A level of disability as a result of your dust disease.
Dust diseases are rare and slow to develop. Most do not develop for at least 10 years after first exposure.
Dust diseases can only be detected through a medical examination. The examination should be carried out by a doctor who has experience in respiratory medicine. Usually examinations will include a chest X-ray or CT scan, and a lung function test. Other medical tests may also be required.
If you haven’t been medically examined or had a chest X-ray in the last six months, we can arrange a free medical examination for you.
Completing a medical examination is an essential part of the application process.To arrange a free medical examination, complete the request for a medical examination form or contact us on 1800 550 027.
Other criteria you need to meet
To help us assess your application for compensation, we require a detailed industrial history report outlining your work history and exposure to hazardous dusts.
One of our Industrial History Officers will contact you to discuss your work history and they will prepare a written report to support your application. For more information about what’s involved in completing an industrial history report, refer to the information sheet below.
If you’re a family member of a worker who dies as a result of a dust disease, you must have been wholly or partially dependent on them for support to receive compensation.