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Workers Need to Be Protected from Silica Exposure

By Kenton Koszdin Law Office on January 20, 2014 | In Workers Compensation Claims

Workers Need to Be Protected from Silica Exposure

A recent study conducted by the American Cancer Society has confirmed what was already suspected: that exposure to silica, a mineral commonly found in materials, such as stone, sand, rock, and concrete, can increase the chance of contracting lung cancer.

Workers in the construction, manufacturing, and mining industries are particularly vulnerable to exposure to the dangerous airborne particles. Employees can breathe in the particles while cutting, drilling, or sawing a product that contains silica.

Along with an increased risk of developing lung cancer, workers also have an increased chance of developing silicosis, an incurable disease that leaves the lungs scarred. Silicosis makes breathing difficult and can lead to respiratory failure in severe cases

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 2.2 million U.S. workers are exposed to silica particles each year. OSHA is so concerned about the adverse health effects resulting from silica exposure that the agency has proposed a new rule that would cut the amount of inhalable silica particles a worker can be exposed to during an eight-hour shift in half.

OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would “save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis per year.”

The proposed rule has received pushback from some construction, manufacturing, and mining groups, however, that believe the current limits offer enough protection for workers, despite mounting medical and scientific evidence that workers are increasingly becoming sick and/or dying due to silica exposure.

It is an employers’ responsibility to see that their employees are protected from silica exposure by implementing safe work practices and procedures. These protections include wearing respiratory protection to avoid breathing in silica dust.

If you believe you have been sickened due to silica exposure at work, contact the Kenton Koszdin Law Office in Los Angeles. You may be eligible for temporary or permanent workers’ compensation benefits. If you have lost a loved one due to a workplace-related illness, you may be eligible to receive survivor benefits.

If you have questions about your legal rights following a workplace injury or illness, call us toll-free at (800) 438-7734 or contact us online today to find out how we can help you and your family.

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