Silicosis Is Hurting Mine Workers: Know More About It

Mine workers health surveillance has never been more important than today. The latest news revealed that there’s a growing epidemic in the industry: silicosis.

What Is Silicosis?

Silicosis is a lung disease that leaves scarring and fluid buildup. It occurs when a person inhales silica dust. These particles can lodge themselves in the respiratory system.

While people can breathe in silica in different ways, it is more common in the mining industry. This dust can be present in mineral ores and coal, for example.

It is different from mesothelioma, which is a rare type of cancer usually due to the inhalation of asbestos. This material is commonly found in insulated parts of the house like walls.

Both, though, can develop over time. It may take as long as 20 years before the symptoms of silicosis occur. Note, though, that if a worker inhales silica dust in higher concentrations, it may accelerate the disease.

Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent severe cough
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain

Diagnosis, Survival, and Treatment

To diagnose the condition, a health physician obtains the medical records of the patient, including their work history. Usually, the first step is to obtain a chest X-ray. If the result is inconclusive or the symptoms persist, they may recommend a CT scan. See more at Resile

This imaging procedure can generate a clearer picture of the lungs. Otherwise, the last process is a lung biopsy. It means the doctor gets a sample of the lungs.

The survival rate of the patient can significantly vary and highlights the need for an occupational doctor. In a study, the survival time of a stage I patient can be as long as 21.5 years. It then declines to 15.8 years when they’re already stage II.

Patients who are at stage III may have an average survival time of only 6.8 years. In the survey, some 25% lived for more than 30 years.

Many factors can affect how long a person with silicosis lives, and one of them is prompt medical intervention. This disease is incurable, but mine workers health surveillance can delay its progression.

An Effective Way to Protect Mine Workers

Besides wearing the right protective equipment, mine workers also need to undergo regular health checkups and examinations. One of these is coal board medical.

It is a mandatory test wherein an occupational physician determines whether the employee is fit to work in coal mines. In Queensland, this is part of the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme.

The test involves many parts, including vision and spirometry. The last one measures your lung capacity, especially your ability to breathe properly.

Mine workers need to take this exam every five years. New ones may also have to undergo a chest X-ray whether they work above or underground.

Mine workers health surveillance is not an option. It’s a necessity and mandatory in preventing diseases like silicosis.

Make sure you do it right by working with a team that knows it inside out. Whether you need an occupational physician or health test, call today.