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April is sarcoidosis awareness month, and we’re looking at the risks associated with this debilitating condition, and how those at an increased risk of developing sarcoidosis at work may be able to hold their employers accountable.

What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a rare inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body, but mostly the lungs and lymph glands. Sarcoidosis can cause abnormal mass or nodules of inflamed tissue to form in certain organs of the body, changing the normal structure and function of the affected organs.

Sarcoidosis is often debilitating, and quality of life is often severely affected by symptoms like:

  • Swollen painful joints;
  • Pain in the hands, feet, or other bony areas due to the formation of cysts;
  •  Kidney stones;
  • Persistent dry cough;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Enlarged liver;
  • Hearing loss,
  • Blurred vision;
  • Sensitivity to light;
  • Fatigue; and
  • Psychiatric disorders including dementia, depression and psychosis.

What causes sarcoidosis?

There is increasing evidence suggesting that sarcoidosis can occur in work place settings where workers are exposed to toxins that cause the body to have a severe immune response.

Various studies suggest that workplace exposures to silica dust, metal dust and fumes, insecticides, wood dust and mold have all been associated with an increased risk of developing sarcoidosis.

Some of the most high-risk industries are mining, construction, stone masonry, agricultural work, firefighting, foundry work, lumbar industry work and tunnel construction. 

What should you do if you have been exposed at work?

If you have worked somewhere with exposure to toxins such as silica dust, metal dust and fumes, insecticides, wood dust and mold, and you are concerned you might be at risk, see your GP. It’s important you also inform them of your occupation, and exposure levels so they have all of the information.

Your GP can guide you as to the need for any ongoing monitoring depending on your specific circumstances.

Why you might need legal advice

If you have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis and have a history of work exposure to silica dust, metal dust and fumes, insecticides, wood dust and mold and/or work in a high-risk industry, it is important to get legal advice to help you understand your rights and options.

Our dust diseases work

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

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