Cincinnati toxic tort attorney Ohio workplace injury lawyer reviews silicosis injury and silica exposure lawsuits for injured plaintiffs nationwide
Silica dust exposure is a serious threat to almost two million workers in the United States, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety experts have identified more than 100,000 workers in high-risk jobs, primarily in construction, fracking, mining and basic materials industries.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), up to two million American workers are exposed to breathable silica toxins in a variety of industries and occupations. Silica dust, when inhaled by employees at the workplace, can cause very serious health disorders and diseases, including lung cancer, silicosis, pulmonary fibrosis, autoimmune disorders, and other adverse health outcomes.
Workers may develop silicosis by breathing very small silica particles into the lungs. Silicosis, an irreversible lung disease, is most closely associated with occupational exposure to silica dust.
Construction workers and those working in fracking operations have developed silicosis and other respiratory diseases from inhaling silica dust and exposure to other toxins at the workplace.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio workplace injury lawyer and toxic tort attorney investigating silica injury lawsuits and representing injured plaintiffs nationwide.
The Lyon Firm works with OSHA experts, construction site engineers, and vocational experts to investigate and determine whether poor management, safety violations, worker negligence or defective equipment caused an injury.
Silica Health Hazards & Silicosis Injury
Crystalline silica is a mineral common in sand, and rocks like sandstone and granite. When rocks, clay bricks, concrete, and tiles are cut and dust fills the air, and workers are not equipped with proper safety equipment, illness is likely to develop.
Silica is produced when these materials are broken or drilled. As early as 1997, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified Crystalline Silica as a human carcinogen.
Silica is classified as a human carcinogen and is the cause of silicosis, a fatal lung disease. Silica dust gets trapped in the lungs and leads to scarring. Severe scarring and the stiffening of the lung makes it difficult to breathe. Over time, lung capacity will decrease. Exposure to silica dust has been associated with the following:
Silicosis Symptoms & Treatment
Silicosis symptoms may appear a few weeks or years after initial silica dust exposure. The scarring of lungs is like to produce a persistent cough a well as other respiratory symptoms. The three types of silicosis include:
- Chronic Silicosis—develops 10 to 30 years after exposure and affects the upper lungs. Patients may have trouble breathing, and the diseases may resemble chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic silicosis is often difficult to differentiate between simple silicosis, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Radiography is used to diagnose the condition.
- Accelerated Silicosis—occurs after exposure to a large amount of silica in a short amount of time. Symptoms include inflammation and scarring that progress faster than in chronic silicosis.
- Acute Silicosis—high-level and massive exposure to silica dust in unregulated environments lead to acute silicosis. The lungs may become inflamed and filled with fluid. Patients can experience severe shortness of breath, cough, fever, weight loss and low blood oxygen levels.
What is Crystalline Silica?
Crystalline silica is a natural component of soil, sand, granite, and other common minerals. Forms of crystalline silica include quartz, cristobalite and tridymite. Almost all forms of silica can be broken into particle dust, and are likely to become respirable-sized particles during workplace activities such as chipping, cutting, drilling, or grinding objects that contain crystalline silica.
There are up to 100,000 American workers in silica-related high risk jobs such as abrasive blasting, foundry work, automotive work, construction, stonecutting, rock drilling, quarry work, tunneling, glass manufacturing and fracking.
Common Silica Exposure Industries
- Mining—coal and hard rock mining operations
- Tunnel building
- Glass manufacturing
- Ceramic production
- Steel plants
- Stone cutting
Symptoms of Silica-Related Disease
The most common sign of heavy silica dust exposure is problems associated with breathing. Inhaling silica dust damages the lungs, increases the risk of lung infections, and may lead to heart failure. Silica may also cause lung disease and cancer with chronic occupational exposure.
Chronic silicosis, the most common type of silicosis, occurs after 15 or more years of exposure to respirable silica. Symptoms associated with chronic silicosis may include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, or respiratory failure.
Acute silicosis occurs after a few months or a couple years following exposure to high concentrations of silica dust. Symptoms of acute silicosis include disabling shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss, and may quickly lead to death.
Preventing Silica Dust Exposure
Silicosis cannot be treated, so it is essential that employers and workers at occupational risk work to prevent any possible silica dust exposure. Employers can take the following measures to ensure the safety of employees at the workplace:
- Maximize dry dust collection
- Enclose dust collection areas
- Use proper dust control equipment
- Properly maintain dry dust collectors
- Change collection filters according to equipment manuals
- Maximize wet suppression (wet drilling) methods
- Maintain and clean enclosed equipment cabs
- Replace torn or missing cab seals
- Keep the cab door closed when drilling
- Change air filters frequently
- Avoid any visible cloud of dust
- Position drills upwind when possible
- Use a respirator according to OSHA guidelines
Ohio Silica Exposure Lawsuits
It only takes a small amount of silica dust to create a health hazard. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, inhaling silica dust can lead to a debilitating and fatal respiratory disease and numerous other health conditions and cancers. OSHA strictly enforces regulations that aim to protect workers from silica dust exposure.
Yet, more than 250 workers die from silicosis every year. Negligent employers may be held liable for injuries that are considered preventable.
The Lyon Firm works to protect workers in every industrial capacity and represents injured plaintiffs nationwide when negligent employers fail to protect employees, and fail to adhere to basic OSHA safety regulations.
If you have questions about compensation options following a silica exposure injury, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403 for a free confidential consultation. You will talk to an experienced lawyer regarding silica injury lawsuits.
While your employer may encourage Workers Compensation, workers comp claims may not fully compensate an employee generously for serious injuries.