Crystalline silica dust is a respiratory hazard that many workers in Pennsylvania have to face, such as those in the construction and mining industries. Approximately 2.3 million Americans are exposed to it daily, and many develop conditions like lung cancer and kidney disease as a result. In 2013, OSHA instituted the first safety rules for working around the mineral as well as the penalties for failing to follow them.
Over the years, though, OSHA has revised the safety protocols and, in turn, has decided to implement new penalties for violations of its silica rule. The agency has stated that greater awareness of the dangers of silica exposure has led to the revisions. These rules cover things like field codes and certification. For instance, they recommend wet cutting concrete and require that respirators pass OSHA’s fit test. They regulate tasks such as sawing bricks, sanding, and fracking.
Under the new rules, companies pay $12,934 for the first violation. They then pay that same amount for each day that they fail to implement the changes required by OSHA. For repeated infractions, companies can be fined anywhere up to $129,336. While some are glad to see OSHA enforcing these rules for greater worker safety, others fear that the fines could effectively put some companies out of business.
Breathing in silica can lead to a workplace illness that could last for a long time. Although workers’ compensation is commonly associated with workplace accidents, it covers occupational diseases as well. People who have been harmed by these types of toxic substances might want to have the assistance of an experienced attorney when preparing and submitting their claim for benefits.