Asbestos has impacted the lives of Pennsylvania residents and others in America for decades. The first lawsuit related to the material was in 1929, and subsequent lawsuits have resulted in billions of dollars being awarded. Between 1940 and 1980, the EPA believes that 27 million American workers were exposed to asbestos with approximately 200,000 dying as a result of direct exposure.
Today, silica dust may be the next health hazard for workers. When a product such as concrete blocks or stucco is cut or ground, it can release silica dust into the air. Those who inhale too much of it could be seriously injured or even killed. According to OSHA, 840,000 workers are exposed to levels of crystalline silica that exceed its recommended safety rules. OSHA estimates that as many as 1,500 workers each year die because of exposure to silica.
Those who are cutting concrete are encouraged to do so using a wet saw. The moisture on the blade acts to prevent dust from being formed. Workers are also encouraged to use respirators when they are doing work that could put them in contact with silica dust. New rules related to silica exposure took effect on June 23, and OSHA believes that it could save as many as 600 lives per year.
Workers who are exposed to silica dust or other toxins may be entitled to compensation if they contract an occupational disease as a result. These types of illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation benefits, and people who have been harmed in this manner might want to have legal assistance when preparing and filing a claim under their company’s insurance policy.