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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, an annual initiative aimed at raising community awareness and funds for much needed research into lung cancer diagnosis pathways, treatment courses and ultimately a cure.

Many of our clients and their families have been devastated by lung cancer, so this cause is one close to our hearts. To help raise awareness of the dangers of workplace exposure to toxic dusts, we share Jeff’s experience with occupational lung cancer, as well as how you can join our team’s fundraising efforts and help us support this important initiative.

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is a malignant tumour in the tissue of one or both lungs. A tumour may be found in the bronchi or in the spongy lung tissue. Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related death in Australia and significantly impacts a person’s quality of life.

Symptoms that can result from lung cancer include: 

  • shortness of breath
  • changes to the voice such as hoarseness
  • chest pain
  • coughing or spitting up blood
  • recurring cough
  • recurring chest infections
  • enlarged fingertips
  • loss of appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • tiredness

Jeff’s Story

Jeff Marshall is just one of many Australians who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, as well as COPD, as a result of his occupational exposure to silica dust. Not long into his retirement, Jeff found himself struggling to breathe and noticed his health was rapidly deteriorating. He asked himself what could have caused his lung disease and contacted Maurice Blackburn for advice.

Jeff worked as a bricklayer for over 40 years. His job involved mixing cement and mortar, handling cement bags and cutting into bricks.  During this time, Jeff was breathing in significant quantities of silica dust without respiratory protection. It became very clear from Jeff’s work history that his bricklaying work likely contributed to his lung disease.

Without proper dust-suppression methods and enforcement of effective respiratory protection, dust exposure can lead to irreversible lung damage and reduced life expectancy. If Jeff had known about the dangers of breathing in dust containing silica and the damage this may cause to his lungs, he would have taken more precautions.

We are seeing positive changes across Victoria in the dust education space and better protection measures enforced for workers like Jeff. However, more needs to be done to raise awareness about the dangers of dust inhalation. No one should find themselves in Jeff’s situation where their work has caused their lung disease, but sadly this is too often the case.

We strive to ensure our clients are fully supported and compensated if they find themselves diagnosed with a lung disease caused by work. Equally as important, we also strive to raise awareness and funds in an effort to prevent lung diseases like Jeff’s occurring in the first place. For this reason, we are shining a light on Jeff and all our client’s suffering from a lung disease throughout lung cancer awareness month.

The Stigma: the importance of raising awareness

90% of Australians believe smoking is the only lung cancer risk factor, despite other proven links including occupational exposure. Tragically, a recent study found that 10-30% of lung cancer can be attributed to hazardous occupational exposures, but nowhere near that amount of compensation claims are being made. This is likely due to a lack of awareness of work-related risk factors and the workers’ compensation process, making it more important than ever to talk about what legal support is available with both those affected and the medical community.

Get involved this Lung Cancer Awareness Month 

On behalf of clients like Jeff, who have developed lung cancer through their exposure to asbestos, silica and other toxic dust and fumes in the workplace, members of our Occupational Diseases Department are joining the Lung Foundation of Australia and hosting Melbourne’s very first Shine a Light on lung cancer fundraiser walk.

Emily Ormerod, Ross Sottile and Rhiannon Fox will be walking alongside their colleagues in recognition of their clients and to advocate for greater funding into research to help build a brighter future for Australians diagnosed with lung cancer.

Register to join our Shine a Light fundraiser walk. There is no obligation to donate but if you can spare any money, your financial contribution is much appreciated.

Learn more about our work in workplace disease compensation

Our dedicated workplace disease lawyers have significant experience in helping clients get compensation for occupational diseases caused by asbestos, silicadust exposure and more. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

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