Gary McFarlane was good at his job as a sandblaster, but now he wishes he wasn’t. Because perhaps then he wouldn’t be diagnosed with silicosis and lung cancer as a result of breathing in silica dust during his 30-year career.

When Gary started out as a sandblaster for an industrial maintenance contractor in 1969, there was very little protection for workers. He wore nothing except “a hanky and a pair of sunnies”. Later in his career he used a mask and respirator, but constantly had to pull them off to check his work or to see what he was doing, exposing him to minute silica sand particles in the air.

He first started noticing symptoms in 2017 – shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, fatigue. It wasn’t until he was admitted to hospital with pneumonia that he was diagnosed with lung cancer and silicosis.

It can take years for people to develop silica-related illnesses. Many who have worked in these industries aren’t aware they could have the disease because often, doctors don’t immediately see the link between respiratory issues and the type of work the patient did for a living. People don’t know their illness is work-related and therefore don’t know they could be entitled to compensation.

Gary was put in touch with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, based on their reputation working on the James Hardy asbestos case. He received a six-figure compensation payout from his former employer, close to $600,000. This is helping with his medical treatment and will set things up for his family when he’s not here.

“Working with Maurice Blackburn was fantastic. They surprised a lot of people, particularly me, with how quick they were. The time between submitting my claim and getting the pay out was four to five months. Now that’s quicker than some of my treatments. I’d swear by them.”

If diagnosed, find out what your legal rights are for compensation. At Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, with a free first appointment, it doesn’t cost you anything to find out where you stand. If you have suffered from silicosis as a result of workplace exposure, call us on 1800 675 346 and Maurice Blackburn occupational lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve. If you think you may have been exposed to an asbestos related or occupational lung disease please register your exposure here:

For more information on what silicosis is, and what to do if you think you have been exposed check out the Maurice Blackburn blog here: The silent dangers in dusty workplaces

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers are experts in Silicosis, Occupational Health and Lung disease and are committed to fighting for a fair go for all workers.

While Gary hung up his equipment long ago, he has a message for younger workers who may think wearing protective clothing is uncomfortable or inconvenient:

“You don’t want to wear protective gear? Get another job. Sure, jobs can be hard to find. But they’re easier to find than a new pair of lungs.”

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