Occupational Illnesses Part 2: Why Is Crystalline Silica a Workplace Hazard?
Crystalline silica exposure may cause workers to develop silicosis, an occupational disease. Workers can breathe in these tiny bits of sand, rock and quartz. These mineral substances can become trapped in the lungs and cause scarring.
Silicosis may cause the following symptoms:
With acute silicosis, workers may experience fever and sharp chest pain
Loss of appetite
Discolored, blueish skin or lips
Shortness of breath or wheezing
Fevers caused by fungal or bacterial infections
There are several industries where workers are most at-risk for developing this condition. Construction, tunnel work, masonry, mining and sand blasting are all examples. Chipping, hammering, drilling, crushing and blasting rock or sand can release these tiny particles into the air. In some cases, the particles responsible for causing silicosis are invisible.
While there is a greater risk with these occupations, there are measure employers can take to protect the health of their workers.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends employers adopt several measures to prevent exposure. These policies include recognizing crystalline silica hazards and creating methods to control the release of dust. Employers should also ensure dust control systems are in working order. It is also essential for employers to maintain safe air quality and to post warning signs for areas with excessive amounts of airborne silica dust. Some jobs may require workers to use respiratory protection equipment to prevent exposure.
Can Workers Harmed by Crystalline Silica Exposure Receive Workers Comp?
Unfortunately, silicosis is not a curable health condition. Workers who develop silicosis as a result of their working conditions may have options to receive workers compensation or other benefits that can help pay living and medical expenses. However, securing these benefits may be difficult without the help of an experienced workers comp attorney.
By calling our Ohio workers comp attorneys at Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC, you can explore which options for benefits are available.