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Construction Workers and Silicosis

Construction workers who are exposed to airborne silica dust may be at risk of developing silicosis. Many materials commonly used at construction and building sites contain silica. When these materials are cut, sanded, or otherwise altered, they can produce silica dust that can become airborne. When workers are not properly protected against the health effects of silica exposure, serious health consequences can result.

Granite, which is about 70% silica, is one of the most common silica products found at commercial or residential construction sites. Silica is found in many other materials used at construction sites, including naturally-occurring materials such as granite, sand, and slate; man-made materials such as asphalt, concrete, and terrazzo; building components such as block, brick, ceramic tile, pavers, roof tiles, or siding; grout, joint compound, mortar, and other joining materials.

When these materials are cut, sanded, or ground on construction sites, they can produce airborne silica dust which can be inhaled by workers. Over time, this silica exposure can cause scarring in the lungs that can lead to a number of serious respiratory conditions.

Silicosis Caused by Exposure to Airborne Silica Dust

One of the most serious illnesses linked to the inhalation of airborne silica is silicosis. Silicosis is caused by scarring in the lungs as a result of inhaling airborne silica dust particles. Over the last 50 years, more than 14,000 workers in the U.S. have died as a result of silicosis that was caused by silica exposure in the workplace. Although the hazards of silica exposure are well-known, hundreds of workers die from this disease every year.

Common symptoms of silicosis include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory failure

Exposure to airborne silica may also lead to a number of other serious and potentially fatal diseases. Other illnesses that are linked to exposure to silica include lung cancer, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), tuberculosis, scleroderma, and renal disease.

Workplace Safety Measures to Prevent Silica Exposure

Federal regulators at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have instituted workplace safety requirements to prevent silicosis and other diseases caused by exposure to silicosis. In addition to requiring respirators and other safety equipment when levels of silica dust are too high, OSHA and NIOSH also require other workplace safety practices—such as wetting down materials that may create silica dust and using caution when cleaning silica in order to limit the quantity of particles that become airborne.

However, despite these safety measures, many construction workers still face risks of silica exposure due to the failure of some employers to follow OSHA and NIOSH safety standards. Some workers are not properly trained by their employers about how to work safely with silica materials, are not provided with proper safety equipment, or allowing workers to engage in dry cutting or dry grinding materials that contain silica.

Injured due to silica exposure? You have legal rights.

When employers fail in their duty to follow federal safety regulations regarding airborne silica, workers who have been exposed to silica dust created at building sites may qualify to file a lawsuit in order to  seek compensation for their injuries. Many lawsuits have already been filed by construction workers or employees at other jobsites alleging that they were not provided with proper safety equipment to protect them from the health effects of exposure to silica sand.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson believe that everyone—including workers who are hurt on the job and victims of dangerous medical or commercial products— should be able to rely on the advice of experienced legal counsel to help them with their case. Our attorneys have the training and trial experience to handle personal injury cases involving workplace exposure to silica—as well as other injuries caused by negligence on the part of an employer—from start to finish.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with silicosis or other respiratory illnesses caused by exposure to airborne silica sand, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson to learn more about whether you qualify to file a lawsuit. For a free legal consultation about your case and to learn more about filing a silicosis lawsuit, contact the attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following this link to our free case evaluation form on this website.