A new NPR report shines light on a silicosis crisis among South African gold miners. Silicosis is an incurable and degenerative lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust, which is created in gold mining during blasting. According to the report, thousands of current and former South African miners are asking the country’s highest court for the right to proceed with a lawsuit against the gold mining industry. They argue that mining companies failed to protect their health. If it goes forward, the class action would be the biggest ever brought in the country. NPR investigated the stories of several miners for the piece, none of whom received compensation after being diagnosed with silicosis and terminated. The country’s mining industry contends that although unsafe practices were an issue in the past, especially during the Apartheid era, conditions have improved since then. South Africa has a nationalized comp system through its Department of Labor in which employers must register themselves and their employees with the Compensation Fund.
Read the NPR story here.