Who is Liable for Silica Dust Exposure?

Lever & Ecker, PLLC September 10, 2013 Construction Accidents

Silica dust, also referred to as crystalline silica or quartz dust, is formed from small particles of dust from sand, dirt, granite, clays, quartz and other stones. When inhaled, it can cause scar tissue in the lungs, making oxygen intake difficult. It can also lead to diseases including silicosis, lung cancer, COPD, bronchitis, tuberculosis and other airway diseases. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that 1.7 million workers in the US are exposed to silica dust annually.

Who is at risk for silica exposure?

Exposure is especially prevalent with workers who do drilling or cutting of stones, however many types of occupations are affected including:

Masons and stone or cement workers
Gas and oil drillers
Agricultural workers
Boiler scalers
Soap and detergent workers
Tunnel workers
Glass manufacturers
Wokers on nuclear testing sites
Railroad track layers
Foundry workers
Sandblasters of buildings or oil field equipment

How can employers protect workers from silica exposure?

OSHA has current standards set for the amount of allowable silica dust exposure in a 10-hour day and a 40-hour work week. Employers are responsible for following guidelines and protecting their workers. Ways they can do this include:

Substituting with materials that do not contain crystalline silica
Limit exposure time
Require showering and changing clothes before exiting the worksite for the day
Provide respiratory protection
Provide disposable protective clothing
Regularly monitor the air
Use containment methods such as blast cleaning
Wet sawing and drilling

Unfortunately not all employers take the proper precautions to protect their workers and many fall ill due to silica dust exposure. If you or someone you love has suffered due to crystalline silica, contact an experienced NY construction accident attorney today.