Every worker has the right to a safe and healthy work environment. However, for some industrial and construction workers, the work environment is inherently more dangerous because of the nature of the work. While the employer is required to take precautionary steps in workplace safety, exposure isn’t always successfully avoided by the employee. Occupational diseases could be the result of exposure to silica dust.
So what is silica dust and where could a person have been exposed to it? Silica dust is commonly found in industries like mining, manufacturing and construction. Silica dust affects a person when it enters the lungs and can cause a variety of illnesses. Most commonly, silicosis, which is scarring of lung tissue, lung cancer, bronchitis and tuberculosis can all manifest after repeated exposures to silica dust.
The point is that repeated exposure to silica can easily cause a person to develop an illness. These illnesses are serious and could not only affect a person’s quality of life, but their ability to work too. Workers’ compensation is one way to reconcile with a loss of wages but so is a personal injury suit if a person believes they were wrongfully exposed per the responsibility of their employer. These illnesses can be long-term, so social security disability benefits could come into play after one year or more of inability to work and lost wages.
The hope is that exposure to silica dust would never happen in the workplace. However, sometimes the damage has been done years in the past and only now the worker feels the impact. They may or may not have initially realized that their health issues were due to silica dust exposure. Discovering the root of the illness is a great way to treat it and move forward.