Work in many industries, such as construction, exposes employees to inhalation
of silica dust. This dangerous substance is created through the demolition,
cutting, crushing, or other destruction of rock, stone, concrete, and
other common materials. When these very fine particles are released into
the air and inhaled by workers, they can cause the development of silicosis,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and kidney disease.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a
new rule to decrease the exposure workers face and impose certain safety
practices that must be enforced to reduce inhalation of these hazardous
crystals. Permissible exposure limits (PELs) for silica crystal dust have
not been updated in 40 years, and OSHA seeks to update it, as well as
other details surrounding the substance. The revisionary rule is currently
being drafted, and OSHA has invited members of the public, including workers,
business owners, family members of victims, and other related individuals
to participate in its development through commentary and appearances at
public hearings. The rule was produced after OSHA accepted suggestions
and recommendations from industry parties and others who contributed information
on this hazard.
Steps to Prevent or Reduce Exposure to Silica Particles Includes:
- Wet cutting significantly reduces the amount of dangerous dust produced
when materials are being cut with a saw. Maintaining the water-feed system
of a saw can ensure that this method is used to its full advantage.
- Vacuum dust collection is accomplished through equipment connected to a
saw, which captures dust at the source of the cut. This can collect a
large amount of dust before it reaches the lungs of workers, but it does
not fully eliminate all risks.
- Fans can be used in areas with poor circulation, where harmful dust may
- Exposure monitoring can pinpoint problematic areas or techniques. Since
the damages resulting from silica dust often take years to develop, harm
inflicted on workers by dangerous conditions may not be readily apparent
until significant damage has occurred.
- Respiratory protection, such as masks and respirators may be needed in
The most dangerous silica particles are not visible, so relying on removing
visible dust is not sufficient to create a safe work environment. Certain
conditions can also have an impact on exposure levels, especially in outdoor
settings, such as wind speed, and how much an area is exposed to moisture
If you or a loved one has grown ill as a result of exposure to silica dust
or other harmful toxins, you may have a claim against the employer.
Contact our toxic exposure attorneys today for a free consultation.