Sue’s Story

It took just five months at one workplace for Sue* to be struck down with a dust disease.

Before starting work at a tier one construction company, the 52-year-old was asked by management to have an X-ray as part of pre- employment medical tests, the results were clear and fine.

After about five months of working in the company, Sue began experiencing shortness of breath. Sue went to her personal doctor and also got an x-ray done. The x-ray revealed that Sue had developed a range of lung issues including sub-acute bronchitis due to silica dust exposure.

“I was a quality insurance inspector and worked very closely to concrete,” Sue says. “I worked for 12 hours a day in a very dusty environment.”

Sue says the company didn’t monitor dust levels, the workplace had no air ventilation or extraction systems, and it failed to provide appropriate protective equipment to her.

“I am now unable to walk long distances or walk up the stairs, I have breathing difficulties, cannot bear the cold as my chest gets tight, and continually need to take medication,” she says.

“I have been affected psychologically as I can’t stop thinking about my health.”

Sue is unable to do her old job, as she has been told by her doctor to stay aware from dust, making it hard to find work that match her skills.

“It is very difficult to work with my condition I am constantly stressed.

As well as Sue’s emotional and physical stress, her diagnosis has also affected her husband, mostly due their strained financial situation.

“Although I am receiving financial assistance from Workcover now, once it stops in 52 weeks, after which all our financial burden will rest on my husband.

Sue says all workers can be affected by silica dust, and every situation must be considered.


*Name has been changed to protect the members’ identity