Workers are exposed to many chemicals but one of the most dangerous chemicals is silica. Silica particles are very small and are often inhaled by workers. Silica exposure affects roughly 2.2 million people in America, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Workers in many occupations are at risk for being exposed to silica. Construction workers as well as those in occupations that include mining, sandblasting, stone grinding and manufacturing glass or ceramic have an increased risk of being exposed to silica.
Studies show that silica exposure can cause silicosis as well as lung cancer. Silicosis can make it difficult for individuals to breathe, and unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure. Silica exposure can cause very serious health conditions for workers, including death.
To address the dangers of silica exposure in the workplace, OSHA is planning to increase controls on silica exposure. OSHA said they are planning to reduce the levels of silica exposure to 0.05 milligrams, down from 0.1 milligrams per meter of air. OSHA predicts that the changes will save 700 lives every year as well as prevent 1,700 cases of silicosis.
Workers in many industries are exposed to silica on a daily basis depending on their job duties. New OSHA guidelines on silica exposure would be a step in the right direction to keep workers from being exposed to dangerous chemicals in the workplace.
Workers who have been exposed to silica should think about applying for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can help pay for medical expenses and lost wages. Victims of silica exposure may also want to consult a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss their cases.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “OSHA plans to slash silica workplace exposure limits,” Anne Harding, Jan. 1, 2014