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Know the Risks of Silica Exposure in Your Workplace

Depending on your work environment, you could be exposed to one or more toxic substances. Asbestos, a fibrous mineral linked to mesothelioma in exposed individuals, is probably the most well-recognized workplace toxic substance hazard.

Other toxic substances you can potentially face in your workplace include radiation, mercury, lead, and silica.

Crystalline silica is a type of quartz used in many construction materials such as concrete, bricks, mortar, and stone. When a worker cuts or pulverizes a material that contains silica, he or she can easily inhale the resulting dust and suffer adverse health effects later, such as silicosis. Individuals who suffer from health conditions because of exposure to toxic materials on the job can seek compensation for their expenses through Workers’ Compensation claims.

Who is Exposed to Silica in the Workplace?

Any individual who comes into contact with silica during his or her workday is at risk of suffering the effects of exposure to the compound. OSHA estimates that of all the American workers exposed to silica in their work environments, 90% are employed

in the construction field. Other fields where workers have an increased risk of silica exposure include railroad track maintenance, dental laboratories, and jewelry production.

Silica is most dangerous in its powder form because it can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Individuals who are exposed to silica in their workplaces are advised to limit their exposure to the silica source and if possible, replace the silica

with another material. Workers are also advised to use respirators when working with the material and to shower as soon as possible after work.

Health Conditions Linked to Silica Exposure

  • Silicosis;
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease;
  • Bronchitis;
  • Lung cancer;
  • Kidney failure; and
  • Cardiovascular disorders.

What Can I Do if I Suffer from a Health Condition Caused by Silica Exposure?

Notify your supervisor of any symptoms you experience that could be linked to one of the conditions above. Be sure to seek medical attention for your symptoms a short time after their onset and to notify your supervisor that you received medical attention. Occupational diseases are not like injuries sustained in workplace accidents; they can develop slowly over years as you continue to work in an environment where you are exposed to a toxic substance. Because of this, the time limits for Workers’ Compensation claims for occupational diseases are often different from those for injuries. Speak with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer about the regulations and time limits for occupational disease claims in your state.

Work with an Experienced La Crosse Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you are suffering from lung cancer, silicosis, or another health condition as the result of prolonged exposure to silica in your workplace, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages through a Workers’ Compensation claim. To learn more about the specific laws governing Workers’ Compensation claims for occupational diseases in your state, schedule your legal consultation with a member of our team of experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd.

Published February 6, 2017
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