Epidemiology of silicosis: Reports from the SWORD scheme in the UK from 1996 to 2017

Christopher Michael Barber, David Fishwick, Melanie Carder, Martie Van Tongeren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To document the demographic risk factors of workers reported to have silicosis in the UK. Methods: All cases of silicosis reported to the Surveillance of Work-related and Occupational Respiratory Disease (SWORD) scheme between January 1996 and December 2017 were classified into one of eight industry categories, and one of five age groups. In addition, to investigate whether there had been any temporal change, mean age and range at diagnosis was plotted for each year. From 2006, data were also available relating to the date of onset of symptoms, allowing a comparison between workers with and without respiratory symptoms. Results: For the period between 1996 and 2017, there were 216 cases of silicosis reported. The mean (range) age of those reported was 61 years (23-89), with the majority (98%) being male. Across all industries, 65% of cases were diagnosed in individuals of working age (<65 for men and <60 for women). Silicosis was reported in young workers across all industry groups, with around one in six of all silicosis cases affecting workers under the age of 46 years. There was no clear trend in age of diagnosis with time. Between 2006 and 2017, 81% of 108 workers with silicosis were reported to be symptomatic. Conclusions: Silicosis remains an important health problem in the UK affecting workers of all ages across a wide range of industries traditionally associated with silica exposure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Early online date10 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • epidemiology
  • silicosis

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Thomas Ashton Institute


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