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Black Lung - Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis

Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP) also known as ‘black lung’ is a disease resulting from breathing in dust from coal, graphite or man-made carbon over a period of years. Have you been diagnosed with black lung?

Toxic exposure, silica and dust diseases

Black lung occurs when these substances sit in the lungs and progressively build up over time. The risk of getting this disease depends on the amount of time you are exposed to these substances. Most people diagnosed are over 50-years of age and although smoking does not increase the risk, it can worsen the dusts’ effect on the lungs. 

Forms of Black Lung 

The disease can appear in two forms, simple and complicated/progressive massive fibrosis: 

  1. Simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis is black lung in its early form. This is when nodules appear where the dust has aggravated. This version of the disease can be found in people living in cities with poor air quality, not just in coal workers. 

  2. Progressive massive fibrosis or complicated coal worker’s pneumoconiosis occurs when the simple version of the disease progresses due to continued exposure to the dust. Large masses of dense fibrosis sit in the lungs leading to limited lung function. Some sufferers can also develop autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. 

In the United States alone, $44 billion has been paid to sufferers by the government, including affected workers and the widows of those who have passed away due to the condition. 

In Australia, the death rate associated with black lung has decreased since the early 1950s. In the last 10 years, only one in 100,000 people have died from the disease due to modern technology detecting the disease early. However, in December 2015, Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham confirmed that there have been four new cases of the disease in the state. 

Black Lung Symptoms 

Black lung can lead to inflammation, fibrosis and death. Symptoms include: 

Simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis 

  • Shortness of breath 

  • Chronic cough (with increased risk of chronic bronchitis) 

Progressive massive fibrosis 

  • Shortness of breath 

  • Chronic cough 

  • Black sputum 

  • Lung dysfunction 

  • Pulmonary hypertension 

  • Heart problems 

  • There is no specific treatment for either simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis or complicated coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. 

  • Other complications from the disease include chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cor pulmonale (failure to the right side of the heart) and respiratory failure. 

Black Lung diagnosis 

Black lung is diagnosed by a physical exam and listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. Chest x-rays and CT scans are also necessary if doctors notice any concerns. You may even be referred to a respiratory specialist for a lung function test. 

Treatment for Black Lung 

There aren’t any specific treatments for black lung. However, you should avoid any further exposure to the dust. By doing this, the condition should remain as the simple version, which rarely causes disability or death. If your black lung has progressed to the complicated form, your shortness of breath will worsen over time. 

Precautions can be taken to reduce the chance of developing the condition and to reduce its effects. These include wearing a protective mask, avoiding smoking and taking regular breaks in fresh air. 

Black Lung Compensation Lawyers 

Workers who develop black lung in the workplace may be entitled to claim compensation for their injuries. Compensation can help improve the quality of life for those affected by making it easier for them to access the medical support they require. 

Shine Lawyers have expert black lung compensation lawyers who act on a No Win, No Fee* basis, and are available for an obligation-free consultation.

You may be eligible for compensation

We’re here to make the claims process as simple and stress-free as possible.

How Shine can help 

We have helped thousands of Australians right wrong and access more than $1 billion per year in entitlements and compensation through our expert services. 

95% of the cases we represent are settled without the stress of going to court.

 We offer access to affordable legal advice including on a No Win, No Fee* basis and an obligation free initial consultation so you can understand your rights and know where you stand.  

*Conditions apply  

We are ready to take action to get you the support and compensation you're entitled to and right wrong. 

Toxic exposure, silica and dust diseases FAQs

Is there a toxic exposure, silica and dust diseases lawyer near me?

With more than 40 branches across Australia and 1000+ team members, location is no barrier when it comes to accessing Shine Lawyers legal advice and support. 

If you’d like to speak to our toxic exposure, silica and dust diseases team in person, you can see our full list of locations here

If you aren't able to find a location near you, we can easily arrange an obligation-free virtual appointment or discuss the option to meet at a location that’s comfortable and convenient for you. No matter where you are located, we will always provide the same, expert advice and manage your claim with the same level of quality and commitment. 

Why trust Shine Lawyers with my dust disease claim?

Shine Lawyers is one of the biggest personal injury and asbestos litigation firms in Australia and have the experience and nous to go up against the big insurance companies and get you the result you are looking for. 

At Shine Lawyers you will have your own go-to team, who are always available to chat and who understand that explaining things in plain English to you is important. 

We provide all of our asbestos legal services on a No Win, No Fee* guarantee, which means you won't have to pay our legal costs unless we win your claim at the end. 

Unable to work due to illness? You may be entitled to Superannuation and Disability Insurance

If you are unable to work due to illness or injury you might be entitled to benefits through your superannuation or other insurance policies. We recommend speaking to one of our experts for a quick, obligation-free analysis of your situation to determine your rights and ability to make a claim. 

Learn more about superannuation and disability insurance claims.

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