The Best Ideas to Avoid the Dangers of Crystalline Silica Exposure
Crystalline silica is a naturally available mineral found in sand and stone and is often used to produce glass, pottery, and ceramics. Generally, this mineral isn’t harmful to human health unless it is composed of small respirable particles.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), when inhaled regularly, workers are at risk of developing serious diseases and life-threatening conditions.
Roughly 2 million workers across the United States come into contact with respirable crystalline silica, and about 100,000 of them are at heightened health risk. Workers most susceptible to dangerous levels of silica exposure include those involved in abrasive blasting, foundry work, stonecutting, drilling rocks, quarry work, and tunnel construction.
Health risks associated with silica dust exposure
Diseases and conditions attributed to silica dust exposure include:
- Silicosis: Exposure to respirable crystalline silica can result in bronchitis, tuberculosis, scleroderma, and potentially renal disease. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and fatal respiratory failure.
- Lung cancer: Aside from causing serious damage and inflammation to the lungs, crystalline silica can cause lung cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, the workers most at risk of developing lung cancer are those who work with quarry, granite, ceramics, pottery, refractory brick, and various earth industries.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): This condition occurs when airflow to the lungs is blocked off. Those impacted may experience difficulty breathing, coughing, excess mucus, and wheezing. Severe COPD can cause lung failure and lead to death.
- Kidney disease: Excessive exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause the kidneys to weaken and fail – allowing toxins and waste to build up in the blood.
In order to protect the health of workers, OSHA regulates the amount of crystalline silica workers may be exposed to within an 8-hour shift. In addition, OSHA requires that workers are trained on how to identify silica hazards and communicate them.
OSHA also recommends that workers take the following precautions:
- Use safer materials whenever possible.
- Utilize local exhaust ventilation and blasting cabinets to reduce silica exposure.
- Use methods such as water spray to control silica dust.
- Be equipped with only a properly fitted N95 NIOSH certified respirator if required.
- For abrasive blasting, wear only a Type CE abrasive-blast supplied-air respirator.
- Wear disposable work clothing and use shower facilities if available.
- Get involved in safety and health programs to monitor how silica exposure impacts human health.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes if you work around crystalline silica.
- Avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or maintaining hygiene in an area where silica dust is present.
- Wait until you’re outside of a dusty area before washing hands and face.
Lastly, if you notice something isn’t right, stop working immediately, report any symptoms to your employer and seek medical help. If you have begun to develop symptoms related to silica dust exposure, continuing to work can only cause your condition to worsen.
An experienced Mississippi workers’ compensation attorney can help guide you through the process of filing a claim. The legal team at Tabor Law Firm, P.A. will ensure that all paperwork is filled out correctly and all documentation regarding your injury is available. Our attorneys handle toxic exposure cases just like yours, and we’ll work tirelessly to negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf.
Contact us today to review the details of your case and discuss your legal options.