For construction workers in Pennsylvania, workplace safety is often a major concern. The industry is a common source of accidents and injuries on the job. Aside from the traditional dangers posed by falls and heavy equipment, exposure to deadly and toxic materials of different kinds can also be a significant concern. One material that is the subject of a newly enforced government regulation yet continues to pose a threat to workers is silica dust.
Silica dust or breathable silica can lead to occupational disease. Specifically, when construction workers breathe in this dust, often thrown off during sanding, drilling and other major projects, particles can become stuck inside the tissues of the lung. When this happens, silica can cause scarring that leads to difficult and labored breathing; when the disease, called silicosis, develops, it can be untreatable and fatal. In response to the silicosis threat to workplace safety, the government ordered the acceptable level of exposure reduced by 80 percent in March 2016.
Despite the issuance of the rule, however, construction companies had until September 2017 before compliance inspections began on the part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Many report that compliance is often partial at best, despite a wide array of government resources and materials provided to give guidance about how to implement the regulations. As of April 2016, 116 violation notices had been issued for silica issues; in most cases, they were combined with a host of other workplace safety violations, including a lack of fall protection. However, more citations are expected to continue in the future.
Workers who have been injured on the job due to toxic exposure, occupational disease or a workplace accident or injury can suffer life-changing effects and consequences. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help people injured on the job to protect their rights and seek the compensation they deserve.