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Harmful Construction Dust a Problem to Workers Throughout the U.S.

Steve Wagner

Synopsis

  • Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone. The dust can cause chronic lung or kidney diseases and respiratory related illnesses.
  • OSHA estimates that over 2.3 million workers are exposed to the dust, with construction workers at most risk.
  • A new fact sheet has been released by OSHA to guide employers on assessing worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica for general industry and maritime.
  • A final rule has also been announced that lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica for all industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift.
  • Indiana workers are entitled to an environment and conditions that do not pose a risk of serious bodily harm.

2 Million Workers Currently Exposed to Harmful Silica Dust

Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone. Across several industries, it is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. Exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust can trigger silicosis, a chronic disease that involves scarring of the lungs and can lead to disability and death.

In addition, workers who inhale these very small particles are also at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:

  • Lung cancer;
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
  • Kidney disease.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to the dust, including 2 million individuals who work in construction.

Final Rule Lowers Exposure Limits for Workers

OSHA recently published a new fact sheet to highlight the steps employers are required to take to protect employees, including assessing workplace exposures, establishing written exposure control plans, provide worker training and help employers comply with the agency’s standard on exposure to respirable crystalline silica (1926.1153) for general industry and maritime. The sheet also includes a final rule that lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica for all industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift.

OSHA issued its final rule with standards for both construction and for general industry and maritime. Both standards went into effect in June 2016; however, general industry and maritime have until June 23, 2018 to comply except in the following areas:

  • Medical surveillance must be available by June 23, 2020, to employees who will be exposed to levels at or above the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift for 30 or more days a year.
  • Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must institute by June 23, 2021, dust controls to limit exposures to the new PEL.

While we know and trust that the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) is continually working to improve working conditions, educate employers and employees, and pass legislation to keep working environments safer, workers are still exposed to harmful toxins each day.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Indiana workers have the right to report errors, dangers, and injuries of their job without the fear of retaliation from an employer, discrimination, or the loss of work.

We Hold Employers Accountable

If your workplace has exposed you to harmful limits of carcinogens like silica dust, the work injury attorneys at Wagner Reese are here to support your workers’ compensation claim and get you back to good health and earning a living. If you have lost a loved one due to a workplace accident or employer negligence, wrongful death damages can be awarded.

We put decades of experience to work for you, and we won’t collect any fees unless your case is settled or won. Connect with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information. If you wish to speak directly with us, please call (888) 204-8440.

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