Silica mining and the use of products containing silica releases microscopic particles of this material in the air. When this dust enters our lungs, it can lead to a condition known as silicosis, which is often fatal.
Exposure to silica in the workplace is the number one reason for health issues associated with this mineral. The risk of silica entering the body is higher with jobs where the mineral is cut, ground, or drilled into. Construction, agriculture, shipbuilding, foundry work, glass manufacture, and stonecutting are industries with high instances of silica-related health conditions in workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has laid down guidelines to bring down the levels of silica dust in the air to acceptable levels. These include the installation of dust control systems, use of protective clothing and masks, workers be required to shower and change clothes before exiting the worksite, monitoring of air quality levels, and educating employees about safety regulations regarding silica and the dangers of inhaling silica dust.
However, health problems associated with silica exposure continue to remain a problem in America in spite of the recommendations made by OSHA.
Silicosis is also known as miner’s phthisis, potter’s asthma, grinder’s rot, and stonecutter’s disease, happens when lung tissue gets hardened and scarred because of regular exposure to silica dust. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, and fever. As the condition advances, the subject experiences pain in the chest, tiredness, loss of weight, and respiratory failure that can lead to fatal consequences.
Silicosis can be divided into three categories; chronic, which manifests after long-term exposure of ten to twenty years to low levels of silica dust; accelerated, which is caused by high levels of silica for five to ten years; and acute, which results from short-term exposure of a few weeks to five years to very high levels of silica.
This condition results in 250 deaths each year and ends in hundreds of cases of disabilities. Subjects suffering from silicosis can also get lung cancer Exposure to silica increases the risk of this disease even if one does not have silicosis. Chronic bronchitis, a painful condition that severely restricts the quality of life, and tuberculosis, a potentially fatal condition, can also result from exposure to silica dust. Exposure can also lead to kidney failure and autoimmune diseases.
Attorney Alex R. Hernandez Jr. can help you if you have suffered injuries or ill health because of silica exposure. Laws governing silicosis are complex and the employer has to be proved guilty of negligence or product liability has to be established. We have the experience in unearthing evidence to support our client’s stand and we present our case based on strong legal and scientific grounds.
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