Silica is a very common mineral, and employees who work in construction may come into contact with it frequently. Silica can be found in glass, granite, concrete and other masonry products. Silica can become a health hazard to people when it is pulverized in the construction process, and then becomes dust.
This dust is respirable, meaning it can be breathed in by people. The dust can be created by a number of different activities that are regularly performed on construction sites. Some of these activities are:
Workers may not even realize that while performing these tasks they may be releasing very tiny particles into the air. Workers may be able to take precautions such as wearing certain types of masks to cover their mouth and nose at the same time.
Even a small amount of dust can create very serious health hazards for employees. Therefore, educating employees and managers and taking precautions to avoid breathing in respirable silica must be followed.
OSHA Regulations Currently in Effect
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provided new regulations in March 2016 for employers to abide by, in order to reduce employees’ exposure to respirable silica, and therefore reduce the health problems that accompany this problem.
In a nutshell, OSHA requires that construction employers keep workers’ exposure to breathable silica below a specified level in the air. Further, air samples need to be taken regularly to ensure that the standard is met.
These regulations apply to when workers are exposed to respirable silica more than fifteen minutes in a day. Additionally, air test samples have shown that there are certain times in the workday where employees may be more likely to be exposed to respirable silica than others. For example, there may be more silica in the air at the time of clean up. OSHA regulations also identify the types of procedures to use when workers may likely be exposed to respirable silica.
The regulations also specify what is considered a “competent person” on the worksite with the ability to identify hazards and remove them, as well as when that person must be on the worksite. The regulations also specify when and how often inspections must be.
Respirable Silica Can Cause Illnesses
Exposure to respirable silica can cause:
- Kidney disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, what is commonly known as COPD
- Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can cause a person to become disabled or can cause death
- Lung cancer
OSHA regulations provide guidance as to whether an employer is liable for an employee’s exposure to respirable silica. Some employees may have been exposed prior to 2016, and a different set of legal standards may apply if employees suspect that they were sickened by respirable silica.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Can Assist If You Contracted an Illness as a Result of Respirable Silica
If you have contracted an illness or been injured at work, you may be entitled to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits from your employer. The Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can assess the facts of your situation with a free consultation. Contact us online or at 302-888-1221. We serve clients throughout Delaware, including Wilmington, Dover, Middletown and Newark, as well as Pennsylvania and New Jersey.