Silica dust is a known cause of silicosis, which is a lung disease that causes hardening and scarring of the lung tissue. Silicosis makes it hard to breathe and increases the risk for bronchitis and lung cancer. More than 250 U.S. workers die annually from silicosis. Silica dust is created by the crushing, cutting, drilling, hammering, and hauling of rock, concrete, or masonry products. Workers exposed to silica dust because of their jobs are at risk of inhaling particles of crystalline silica that can be lodged in their lungs. The World Health Organization considers silica dust exposure to be as hazardous as asbestos exposure and smoking.
Countertop Workers and Silicosis
Today, every modern kitchen or bath renovation includes new countertops often made of stone. Whether natural granite, marble, or manufactured stone, all these materials contain crystalline silica and grinding, cutting, and polishing the countertops releases silica dust into the air. Manufacturing countertops involves mixing crystalline silica with resin and pigments to create the look of natural stone.
Countertop workers at greatest risk of silica exposure are those using power tools to cut, grind, and polish stone. Other workers at risk include those who mix ingredients, handle bags of quartz, clean mixers and/or dust collectors, and inspect products. Even workers who are not involved in countertop production but work near areas generating silica dust are at risk for silica exposure, as are the workers who clean these areas and maintain the equipment.
Employers are required to comply with strict safety standards for silica dust exposure set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This includes using dust control systems, monitoring air quality, requiring workers to shower and change clothes before leaving work, and using respirators when silica dust levels are high.
Complications from Silicosis
There is no medical treatment available for silicosis and no cure. Therefore, prevention is crucial. Workers who develop silicosis experience shortness of breath that eventually becomes permanent, along with wheezing and fatigue. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common development in workers suffering from silicosis. COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Another health complication from silicosis is kidney disease where the kidneys decline in their ability to filter waste and excess fluid.
Compensation for Silica Exposure
Health problems from work-related silica exposure may be compensated in a variety of ways. Workers’ compensation benefits are available to those who file a successful claim for occupational illness. It is also possible to file a third-party claim against the manufacturer of the silica-based product that caused the dust if it is found that the product was unsafe. The same is true for manufacturers of production or safety equipment if it was defective and did not perform properly. It is important to consult with a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer who can determine the best legal strategy for your unique circumstances.
Downingtown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich & Sweeney, LLC Help Ill Workers File Claims for Silicosis
If you suffer from a work-related injury or illness, the Downingtown workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich & Sweeney, LLC can help you. We have the experience needed to help you file a successful claim for the benefits you deserve. Call us at 610-594-1600 today to schedule a free consultation about your case or contact us online. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we represent injured workers throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.