Silicosis is a respiratory disorder caused by exposure to silica dust, which is present in most rock formations, sand, glass and other materials across the planet. Inhalation of this dust may lead to the swelling of the lungs and the development of fibrous tissue that inhibits breathing and may lead to chronic cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and eventual respiratory failure if exposure continues and the condition goes untreated. Long-term occupational exposure to silica dust is the most common cause of silicosis in patients across the United States.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website offers a number of helpful tips to prevent silicosis. Because there is no known treatment for this disorder, other than symptom management and lung transplant, it is essential to prevent silica dust inhalation in the first place. OSHA recommends:
- Ensuring proper ventilation of any areas where silica dust may be present;
- Using wet methods of drilling, cutting, grinding, sanding or chipping cement, rock and other materials containing silica;
- Using respirators that are specifically approved for protection against silica inhalation;
- Avoiding drinking, eating or smoking in any area where silica dust may be present;
- Washing one's hands and face before eating, drinking or smoking after working with or around silica-containing materials; and
- Substituting blasting material with material that does not contain crystalline silica.
Taking these steps can limit or prevent exposure, protecting workers' well-being. The most common sources of exposure, and therefore where these methods should be employed without exception, include: sandblasting, rock and concrete drilling or crushing, masonry, concrete work, mining, tunneling, demolition and cement and asphalt manufacturing.
From our national headquarters in New York City and offices located across the country, the workers' compensation attorneys at Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, LLP handle silicosis claims and lawsuits throughout the U.S. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your exposure, you may be able to seek
workers' compensation benefits or may be able to file a
personal injury lawsuit against your employer or other responsible party. By reviewing your unique case and discussing your goals and concerns with you, we can determine the best course of action.