Tackling Silicosis

There are certain jobs that are inherently dangerous such as construction and mining, but this is mostly because they are physically demanding work in unstable surroundings. Safety measures are in place to prevent injuries from obvious things such as falls from height, electrocution, and falling objects. However, one of the most pervasive dangers to certain workers is toxic exposure.

According to the website of Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., silicosis is one of the most common types of occupational diseases and develops from breathing in crystalline silica dust. Silica is abundantly found in sand, rocks, and ore-bearing material. It develops in workers in abrasives and glass manufacturing, mining, quarrying, road and building construction, sand blasting, and stone cutting that are constantly exposed to silica dust. The silica dust gets into the lungs, causing it to become inflamed and develop nodular lesions. Symptoms include a chronic cough, fever, shortness of breath, and bluish skin from inadequate blood oxygenation (cyanosis). It is often mistaken for pulmonary edema or pneumonia.

It is possible to develop silicosis within a short period (one year) with intense exposure to very large amounts of silica dust. However, silicosis typically develops over many years of exposure to silica dust, up to 20 years in occupations where the silica dust is at low levels. It is common in developing countries but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it is relatively rare in the US because of safety regulations imposed for those in at-risk occupations. It is estimated that less than 60,000 workers with silica exposure will develop silicosis.

However, many workers that do succumb to silicosis work for employers that fail to follow simple safety regulations pertaining to silica exposure. This is not only a violation of safety standards but a breach of their duty to ensure the reasonable safety of workers, and may be considered gross negligence.

If you developed occupational silicosis, you may be eligible to seek compensation from your employer. Find a competent toxic exposure lawyer in your area and have your case assessed.

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