The dangers of silica dust have been causing concern in different industries nationwide, including in California. Workers who are involved in activities that involve sand or concrete are particularly exposed to these deadly particles that can cause life-threatening workplace injuries. Tiny crystals of silica that cannot be detected by the eye are present in sand and can be inhaled by workers. Once it reaches the lungs, the tiny particles adhere to the inner walls of the lungs by slicing into it. Accumulation of crystalline silica can have severe health consequences over time, and it may result in Silicosis, which may even lead to lung cancer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued citations to a walling company in another state. OSHA investigators determined that the company exposed its workers to dangerous silica dust that may affect their ability to continue working, or even to breathe. Although Silicosis is an incurable disease, it is entirely preventable by providing workers with respirators that will prevent workers from inhaling the particles.
The same company was also cited for its failure to provide safety training related to hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, it was determined that workers who were expected to operate damaged forklifts were exposed to life-threatening hazards. Also, no safeguarding was present on mixing tanks, causing fall hazards to unsecured workers.
This OSHA inspection may convince the walling company owner to protect workers in the future, but thousands of workers nationwide may remain in working conditions that may be life-threatening. California workers who have suffered workplace injuries or are suffering the consequences of silica exposure may pursue workers' compensation benefits. Unfortunately, occupational illnesses may only become evident after long periods of exposure, and the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney may be invaluable to prove that the illness is work-related.
Source: channel3000.com, "Rio business cited for OSHA violations", Sept. 16, 2015