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How Are Workers Exposed to Silica?

Our Chester County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Represent Clients Suffering From Silica Exposure-Related Illnesses

Silica exposure is a well-recognized yet often present hazard in the construction industry that poses significant health risks to workers. Crystalline silica, a common mineral found in sand, stone, concrete, and brick, can become airborne during various construction activities. When workers inadvertently inhale or ingest silica, they can develop serious illnesses that might even lead to fatalities.

When workers inhale or ingest tiny crystalline silica particles, typically generated during cutting, drilling, grinding, or blasting silica-containing materials, they are exposed to silica. These activities create respirable dust, which, when inhaled, can penetrate deep into the lungs, leading to respiratory issues and other serious health conditions.

What Are the Dangers of Silica Exposure?

Silica exposure poses serious health risks to construction workers, primarily affecting the respiratory system. Inhaling silica dust can cause inflammation and scarring of lung tissue, leading to silicosis.

Silicosis is a progressive and irreversible lung disease characterized by shortness of breath, persistent cough, chest pain, fatigue, and respiratory infections. In advanced stages, silicosis can severely impair lung function, leading to respiratory failure and death.

Silica exposure has also been linked to other respiratory conditions, including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Prolonged or intense exposure to silica dust increases the risk of developing these illnesses, highlighting the importance of effective prevention measures.

Preventive Measures for Minimizing Silica Exposure

Construction workers can take several precautions to minimize their risk of silica exposure and protect their health:

  • Use engineering controls: Engineering controls like water sprays, local exhaust ventilation systems, or dust collection devices can capture silica dust at the source and prevent it from becoming airborne.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE): Properly fitted respirators, goggles, and protective clothing can help minimize exposure to silica dust. Employers should provide appropriate PPE and ensure workers receive training on its correct use and maintenance.
  • Follow safe work practices: Utilize safe work practices, such as wet cutting or drilling methods, to control dust levels and minimize silica exposure. Regular equipment maintenance and inspection can also help prevent dust generation.
  • Participate in medical monitoring: Construction workers exposed to silica dust should undergo regular medical monitoring to detect early signs of respiratory issues or silica-related illnesses. Early detection allows for timely intervention and treatment, improving health outcomes.
  • Promote proper hygiene: We encourage good hygiene practices among workers, such as washing hands and changing clothes after working with silica-containing materials. That can reduce the risk of ingesting silica dust.

Do Construction Workers Have Legal Protections for Silica Exposure Illnesses?

Construction workers exposed to silica dust are protected by certain workplace safety and health laws. Employers are legally responsible for providing a safe work environment and complying with relevant occupational health and safety standards, including silica exposure.

Workers who suffer from silica-related illnesses or injuries may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Sometimes, those claims are delayed or denied, though. A workers’ compensation lawyer can discuss those situations and your options.

Our Chester County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Represent Clients Suffering From Silica Exposure-Related Illnesses

If you or a loved one has suffered from silica exposure-related health issues as a construction worker, seek legal guidance. Our Chester County workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC can help. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown. Call 610-594-1600 or submit our online form to schedule a free consultation.