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Silicosis Lawyers To Protect Workers' Rights

Occupational Silicosis is a Serious Condition

Larry Pitt & Associates is a highly-regarded workers’ compensation firm dedicated to protecting workers’ rights throughout the Philadelphia region. With over 42 years of experience, our team of skilled attorneys specializes in advocating for injured workers and securing the compensation they deserve. Whether dealing with occupational diseases like silicosis or workplace accidents, we provide comprehensive legal support to navigate the complexities of the workers’ compensation system. Our commitment to recovering millions for our clients underscores our dedication and expertise. Contact Larry Pitt & Associates today for a free consultation and let us help you protect your rights and secure your future.

What is Silicosis?

Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to silica dust. It is characterized by the inflammation and scarring of lung tissue, leading to impaired lung function. There are three primary types of silicosis: chronic, accelerated, and acute.

Chronic silicosis, the most common form, typically manifests after 10 to 30 years of low to moderate silica exposure and progresses slowly. Accelerated silicosis develops more quickly, usually within 5 to 10 years of high-level exposure. Acute silicosis is the most severe form, occurring just a few weeks to 5 years after massive exposure to silica dust; it rapidly leads to severe respiratory failure.

Silicosis can cause a range of serious medical issues beyond breathing difficulties. Individuals with silicosis are at a heightened risk of developing tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. The disease can also lead to complications such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis, further exacerbating respiratory problems. The scarring and stiffening of lung tissue impairs oxygen transfer, potentially leading to long-term disability and diminished quality of life. Early diagnosis and preventive measures are crucial to managing and mitigating the impact of this debilitating condition.

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PHILADELPHIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ATTORNEYS AT LARRY PITT & ASSOCIATES, P.C. HELP WORKERS WITH SILICOSIS OBTAIN THE BENEFITS THEY DESERVE

If you developed silicosis due to hazardous workplace exposures, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C., We can help you get the compensation you deserve, including any potential damages from responsible third parties. Complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW today to arrange a free consultation.

Silicosis Symptoms

It may take years for symptoms of silicosis to appear. Depending on the stage of the disease, patients may exhibit various symptoms such as wheezing shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic cough, chest pain, and respiratory failure. Early diagnosis of silicosis can be difficult because symptoms are often mistaken for other, less serious conditions. Silicosis is presently incurable and in its advanced stages may cause patients to be at increased risk for other diseases such as tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer.

What Causes Silicosis?

Workers may develop silicosis for various reasons, including a lack of adequate safety equipment, exposure to unsafe levels of respirable silica particles, or failure to comply with safety regulations. Whatever the cause, workers with silicosis may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Pennsylvania’s no-fault workers’ compensation system. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. are dedicated to helping those suffering from a work-related illness obtain the medical care, wage replacement, and other benefits to which they are entitled.

Professions At Risk For Silicosis

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that approximately 2.3 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to silica dust. According to OSHA, silicosis typically develops when workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica during the manufacturing of certain products and during certain construction or agricultural operations.

Workers in the construction industry are at increased risk of silica dust exposure, which is produced by grinding, cutting, drilling, or otherwise disturbing materials such as stone, rock, and concrete. Other types of at-risk workers include:

Silica consists of small, fine particles, at least 100 times smaller than sand, which can become stuck in ones’ lungs when inhaled. Workers are at increased risk of developing silicosis if they engage in activities that expose them to respirable crystalline silica dust, such as:

  • Brick, stone, glass, or ceramic products manufacturing
  • Crushing rock
  • Demolition work
  • Drilling concrete
  • Grinding mortar
  • Road construction work
  • Sandblasting
  • Tunneling

Preventing Silicosis

Silicosis is preventable through limitation of occupational exposure. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employers are required to comply with the applicable OSHA safety and health standards for the industry.

OSHA’S Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

In 2016, OSHA implemented the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard (the standard) for both the construction industry and the general and maritime industries. The standard requires employers in both the construction and the general/maritime industries to take certain steps to protect employees from the hazards associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure, including:

  • Exposure control methods – Employers must either comply with established control standards or implement their own based on independent determinations of workers’ exposure and needs.
  • Housekeeping – Employers must not allow dry sweeping, dry brushing, or the use of compressed air unless other methods are not feasible. General industry employers must also establish regulated areas where employees are expected to be exposed to dangerous levels of silica, demarcate those areas from the rest of the workplace, and limit access to them.
  • Written exposure control plan – Employers must identify the tasks and procedures that will be implemented to protect workers.
  • Medical surveillance – Workers who are regularly exposed to respirable crystalline silica should be offered periodic medical examinations.
  • Communication of hazards – Employees have a right to be informed of the hazards associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure and trained on the proper way to handle it.
  • Recordkeeping – Records of air monitoring, medical surveillance, and other relevant data should be maintained and made available.

Additional Safety Precautions For Working Around Respirable Crystalline Silica

Workers who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica should be provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified respirators. OSHA also provides the following recommendations:

  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke near crystalline silica dust
  • Use water sprays and wet methods for breaking down materials
  • Utilize engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation
  • Wash hands and face after exposure to crystalline silica dust
  • Wear NOISH-approved respiratory protection

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