Oilfield workers who are exposed to airborne silica dust created during a drilling process known as “fracking” may be at risk of respiratory diseases such as silicosis or lung cancer. Workers who have been diagnosed with illnesses caused by exposure to dust from silica sand may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the companies that caused their exposure.
Hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—is a drilling technique that allows oil and natural gas to be extracted from shale and other rock formations. After a well has been drilled, large amounts of water, sand, and chemicals are pumped under the ground, causing cracks to form in the rock deep below the earth’s surface. The sand that is pumped underground with the fracking fluids holds these fissures open, allowing oil or natural gas to flow freely to the well’s surface.
According to warnings by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), silica dust created by the machines at fracking sites can cause lung tissue damage among workers who breathe in the dust. Workers who are exposed to airborne silica face an increased risk of developing lung cancer and silicosis—a lung disease that causes scarring in the lungs due to the presence of silica particles.
Air samples collected by NIOSH at numerous fracking sites found that levels of airborne silica dust exceeded federal safety standards nearly 80% of the time. Despite the health hazards posed by these high levels of silica dust, regulators have found that many drilling companies fail to take adequate precautions to minimize worker exposure to silica dust, or to provide workers with respirators or other safety equipment that would protect them from inhaling airborne silica.
It usually takes 20 years or more for individuals who were exposed to silica dust to develop the first symptoms of silicosis. However, many oilfield workers who were exposed to silica dust at fracking sites have been diagnosed with silicosis, lung cancer, or other respiratory diseases in as little as five years after exposure due to the high volume of airborne silica found at these sites.
Oilfield workers who have been diagnosed with silicosis or lung cancer have filed lawsuits against the drilling companies and oil corporations that operated the fracking sites where they worked. These lung cancer and silicosis lawsuits have alleged that some oil and drilling companies failed to use safe drilling practices and safety equipment that would have protected their workers from dangerous levels of exposure to silica dust.
If you or a loved one worked at a fracking site—or if you lived in an area where fracking took place—and you have been diagnosed with a serious lung condition such as cancer or silicosis, you may be eligible to file a fracking lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries. For a free legal consultation from an attorney, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling our toll-free hotline at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located on this page.