Construction Workers: Beware of Silica Exposure

a construction worker smiling

Dangers of Silica Exposure to Construction Workers

At construction sites, the air is usually full of dust, as workers pulverize rocks or concrete. Although it may not seem like it, this dust can actually be harmful, even deadly. Studies have shown that construction workers are at risk of developing silicosis and other lung diseases if they are exposed to high levels of concrete and rock dust over a significant period of time.

What Is Silicosis?

Inhaling dust containing crystalline silica particles (a main component of the earth’s crust) can cause lung fibrosis – a disease marked by scar tissue formations in the lung that can interfere with the ability to breathe. There is no known cure for this disease.

Other diseases associated with silica exposure include chronic airway obstruction and bronchitis, tuberculosis and lung cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

What Construction Activities Have High Risk?

Construction activities that have the highest risk of silica exposure include the following:

  • Sandblasting to remove paint and rust
  • Jack hammering
  • Rock/well drilling
  • Concrete mixing and drilling
  • Brick and concrete block cutting and sawing
  • Tunneling
  • Setting, laying, and repair of railroad tracks

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposes certain site standards to protect workers from the dangers of silica exposure, recent studies suggest that the current OSHA standard may actually be insufficient.

What Are the Symptoms of Silicosis?

If you are a construction worker and experience any of the following symptoms, you may have contracted silicosis:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Bluish skin at the ear lobes or lips
  • Chronic fatigue and shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pains
  • Respiratory failure

Chronic silicosis, which usually occurs after 10 or more years of exposure, may eventually lead to death, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Am I Entitled to Compensation?

If you or someone you love has developed silicosis or another respiratory illness due to construction work, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, loss of income, future medical treatment, pain and suffering, and more. However, it is up to you to take action to ensure maximum recovery. Get in touch with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible.

At Wilshire Law Firm, our legal team can conduct a thorough investigation of your claim and help you prove that your employer and/or the equipment manufacturer caused your exposure to silica dust. For years, we have helped injured and sick construction workers get the financial support they need to cover their medical bills and secure their financial future. To learn more about your rights and legal options, call us today at (800) 522-7274.