Are Workers Protected From Silica Dust Exposure?
Workers in professions that involve quarry work, foundry work, stonecutting and rock drilling can be exposed to tiny particles of crystalline silica, a known carcinogen.
In addition to being linked to cancer, inhaling crystalline silica can scar lung tissue, reducing the ability of the lungs to take in oxygen. This “occupational disease” is known as silicosis, and there is no cure.
Earlier this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited an Ohio foundry for 17 serious violations, one of which included exposing workers to silica dust. According to an investigation, the operators of the foundry allowed silica dust to accumulate and failed to implement a safe protection program to safeguard workers. After the investigation concluded, OSHA proposed fining the foundry a total of $76,000.
How Can OSHA Help Protect Workers From Silicosis?
OSHA has recently proposed setting federal standards for silica exposure. One of the proposed rules would require companies to use dust control techniques, supply workers with respirators and require x-rays and lung function tests every three years if workers are exposed to silica for 30 or more days in a year.
OSHA estimates that 1.85 million workers are exposed to crystalline silica in construction workplaces, with 640,000 facing exposure beyond OSHA’s permissible standards.
Workers who have suffered silicosis from silica exposure might be able to file for workers’ compensation and receive benefits. Occupational diseases are included in the workers’ comp system in the state of Ohio.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC – Columbus Workers’ Comp lawyer