In 1974, the United States government warned consumers of a dangerous substance, silica. Forty-one years later, silica still threatens the lives of many American construction workers.
When crushed, crystalline silica turns to small, shard-like particles. When workers inhale silica dust, they develop a medical condition called silicosis (lung fibrosis).
In short, silicosis occurs when the lungs build up severe scarring against sharp silica particles found in dust. Over time, silicosis leads to lung cancer and slow suffocation.
Silica Exposure is Not a New Problem
Historians believe ancient societies were mindful of silica exposure, such as the Romans and Greeks. In the 1930s, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins attempted to launch a national campaign to outlaw silica after West Virginia lost hundreds of tunnel workers to silica.
In 1974, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health told workers the exposure limit still put them at risk.
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) responded by cutting the exposure limit in half in 1989.
A short time later, a court decision undid OSHA’s new rule. OSHA didn’t try to reinstate the rule until 2011.
Workers Continue to Suffer the Consequences
Since federal regulations didn’t protect workers from silica exposure, many workers (often those in construction and industrial fields) continue to suffer the deadly aftermath of overexposure.
One man, C. Johnson, was born in 1974, the same year the U.S. issued its first silica warning. Before OSHA restricted the exposure threshold for workers, Johnson spent five months working as a brick layer and developed silicosis.
At 40 years old, Johnson is expected to live less than five years with the disease.
How Many People Are Affected?
According to researchers, roughly 2.2 million workers suffer silica exposure at work. Most of these employees work in construction.
TheAmerican Lung Association says the following occupations are at risk of lethal silica exposure:
- Highway Construction
- Bridge Construction
- Demolition & Repair Work
- Abrasive Blasting
- Drywall Finishing
- Concrete Finishing
- Rock Crushing
- Sand Screening
- Gravel Screening
Are You a Victim of Silica Exposure? Take Action Now.
If you or someone you love suffered silicosis or lung cancer from exposure to silica at work, the Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC is here to help you fight for the justice you deserve.
Though a toxic exposure lawsuit, our Houston workplace injury lawyers can help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Get in touch with our law firm today!