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Wendy Robinson is a mother, a grandmother and a dog mum. Family is the centre of her life.

Working as a field assistant on drill rigs for a large mining exploration company, a job she held for ten years, gave Wendy the flexible lifestyle she wanted and the ability to spend quality time with her loved ones.

“I loved the variety of work, the country, the people, and then flying back to city life and family,” says Wendy.

Wendy thought her job was a safe one.

“We had our procedures to follow, we had all the safety gear, and everybody followed their procedures to a tee,” said Wendy.

“I never thought that job would lead to silicosis.”

In 2019, Wendy started to struggle with fatigue, muscle weakness and joint pain. Her doctor ordered a chest x-ray and found scarring on her lungs.

“I asked him if it was serious, and he said yes, it’s very serious.”

Silicosis is a debilitating and incurable lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust particles. Silica dust is created when a material containing crystalline silica - such as stone, sand, concrete or mortar - is cut, drilled or ground.

It causes scarring of the lungs, and advanced symptoms include chronic and severe breathlessness, chronic immobility, oxygen dependence and organ failure.

Grace Fredericks, Dust Diseases Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, explains that silicosis is a terminal condition.

“There’s no cure, and people are forced to live with it for the rest of their lives.”

Wendy’s condition, like many others in her position, was preventable. It’s not just underground mine workers and stonemasons being diagnosed with silicosis – it affects people like Wendy, working outdoors and in workshops wearing all the right safety equipment, too.

“Employers are not doing enough to protect our workers from being exposed to silica dust,” says Grace.

Wendy’s silicosis diagnosis turned her world upside down.

She was forced to resign from her job as she couldn’t risk being exposed to any more dust. For Wendy, who loved her job and had always worked, this was a difficult transition that seriously affected her mental health.

“I just went into panic mode – how am I going to support myself? Where do I go from here?”

Looking for advice on her next steps, Wendy reached out to us for legal advice.

Grace Fredericks and Jonathan Walsh, Principal Lawyer, from our Queensland Dust Diseases Team visited Wendy in her own home, listened to her story and carefully explained the silicosis compensation claim process.

No longer able to work because of her illness, Wendy admits she was very worried about the costs associated with the legal process.

“Grace and Jonathan were very upfront with their prices, and being a ‘no win, no fee’, I felt more comfortable.”

“In addition to worker’s compensation entitlements, we were able to pursue a common law claim in the courts for Wendy,” says Grace.

A common law claim is a claim for a lump sum compensation payment to cover medical treatment costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and any future care requirements.

“Being able to obtain that financial compensation for Wendy took the pressure off her and what her future looked like, and Wendy was able to use the compensation to move closer to her family on the Gold Coast so that she could spend more time with her grandchildren.”

For Wendy, the personal support and care she received from Grace and Jonathan throughout her claim was invaluable.

“It’s been a couple of years since I met Grace… (we’re) more on a friend basis now,” says Wendy.

“She makes me feel very comfortable. Nothing’s too much trouble for her.”

Grace says working with Wendy has been an absolute pleasure.

“It's been very easy to assist Wendy. She’s very lovely to deal with, and I’ve been really honoured and grateful to be a part of her life.”

“When I meet with someone like Wendy, I see a grandmother and a mother, and it's almost like someone from your own family is needing assistance, and you want to give them the best service possible so that they can move on with their life and focus on their health and spending time with their family.”

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with silicosis, we can help. Contact us to find out more about your options.

Register your silica dust exposure

It’s a good idea to document any dust exposure in case you develop a lung or other related disease later in life. We have created the free National Dust Register to provide an easy way to do this.

Recording the details of your silica dust exposure, regardless of how recent or long ago it was, can help any future compensation claims you may need to make. It's free to register and obligation-free as well.

We can help with disease exposure claims

Our experienced lawyers have a long history of fighting for the rights of people suffering from asbestos, silica and other dust related illnesses. If you've been diagnosed with a dust disease, you may have a claim for compensation. 

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.