Construction workers are exposed to a number of occupational hazards, such as scaffolding injuries, noise hazards, and equipment injuries. But a new report shows that construction workers who are exposed to crystalline silica dust are also at risk of developing occupational diseases over the long term.
Researchers from the scientific research organization IRSST and University of Montreal looked at a literature-based database of the levels of occupational exposure to silica containing more than 10,000 exposure measurements in order to identify the professions and tasks associated with the highest exposures. According to this article, the research found that exposure levels for an eight-hour work shift exceeded acceptable levels for both the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ threshold limit value and Quebec’s regulatory standard for silica.
Exposure to silica dust is known to cause a variety of respiratory diseases, including cancer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also says that construction workers exposed to silica are at risk of developing silicosis, a lung disease caused by the lung tissue developing fibrotic nodules and scarring around the trapped silica particles. If the nodules grow too large, breathing becomes difficult and death can result. Silicosis victims are also at high risk of developing active tuberculosis.
Crystalline silica can come in many different forms, such as quartz, cristobalite, and tridymite. According to the CDC, concrete and masonry products contain silica and, since these products are primary materials for construction, construction workers may be easily exposed to crystalline silica during activities such as the following:
- Chipping, hammering, and drilling of rock
- Crushing, loading, hauling, and dumping of rock
- Abrasive blasting using silica sand as the abrasive
- Abrasive blasting of concrete (regardless of abrasive used)
- Sawing, hammering, drilling, grinding, and chipping of concrete or masonry
- Demolition of concrete and masonry structures
- Dry sweeping or pressurized air blowing of concrete, rock, or sand dust
Know Your Rights
Construction workers who develop medical conditions due to silica exposure are generally entitled to workers’ compensation. Under Illinois workers’ compensation laws, injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for all on-the-job accidents and injuries, including occupational exposure injuries such as silica exposure and noise pollution.
Depending on the circumstances involved, a construction worker with a silica-related medical condition may also have a third-party personal injury claim against a party other than the employer. Workers’ compensation and third-party personal injury claims for occupational exposure injuries such as silica exposure are often difficult to pursue since it can be hard to prove that the injuries were sustained while on the job. Accordingly, it is important to consult with an attorney who understands the requirements of filing an Illinois workers’ compensation claim or a third-party personal injury lawsuit.
The Chicago workplace accident attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC focus on helping injured workers collect full and fair compensation from all available sources. We will advise you of your legal rights and help you pursue any possible legal claims. If you have suffered injuries as a result of on-the-job exposure to silica, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Chicago workplace injury lawyers at Ankin Law Office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation.