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Silica Workers at Risk

When silica dust is inhaled it causes a severe lung disease known as silicosis. Individuals who work with silica should be aware of the extreme dangers associated with this line of work and their employers must also make employees aware of these risks.

Silica is a mineral that is often mined from the Earth's surface from rock and sand. While silica is used throughout the world it has been linked to a deadly form of a lung condition known as silicosis.

As dust, it can be inhaled, which scars and inflames lung tissue. When silica is first inhaled, the body creates macrophages to combat the particles. Macrophages are destroyed by silica dust. This leaves scarring, known as fibrosis, in the lungs.

In turn, the fibrosis can interfere with proper lung function and leave patients susceptible to further lung ailments. Miners, sandblasters, refinery workers, refractory workers, foundry workers, raw materials handlers, furnace installers and repairers, casting workers and other such laborers are at risk of occupational exposure to silica.

These occupations often require workers to handle fine particles of rock, sand or glass, which are laden with silica. Chronic silicosis usually is seen in people who have been exposed to crystalline silica in relatively low doses for ten years or longer.

Accelerated silicosis is the result of breathing in large amounts of crystalline silica for five to ten years. Acute silicosis occurs at the highest levels of exposure and can develop within just a few weeks or as many as five years after initial exposure. Silicosis is often a dormant condition, taking years to develop. At the onset of silicosis, symptoms may be few.

As the disease progresses, symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, change in breathing patterns and loss of appetite. Severe cases may result in the need for lung transplants, increased risk of lung cancer or other lung disease or death.

To test for silicosis, doctors will likely perform chest x-rays, tests to judge pulmonary function or skin tests for tuberculosis. A health care provider should ask questions about jobs or hobbies that may have put the patient at increased risk of exposure to silica.

There is no cure for silicosis. Individuals who have developed silicosis should stay away from silica dust and fibers or activities that will increase exposure of such. Patients can also ease problems associated with silicosis by removing irritants, such as cigarette smoke, from their environment.

Symptoms, such as coughing, can be treated. The risk of additional disease, like tuberculosis, can be mitigated. Antibiotics can be supplied in cases of lung infections. The best way to prevent silicosis through workplace safety in high-risk industries.

In fact, according to OSHA, 100 percent of silicosis cases could be prevented with proper protective equipment. Many legal standards are in place to curb the formation of silicosis. It is when companies fail to follow these precautions that cases of silicosis develop in their workers. Employees who were inadvertently exposed to silica and who were victim of improper safety equipment by their employers may have the ability to develop a worker's compensation lawsuit for the harmful exposure.

Workers may also file suit in many cases where a silica-based product that did not meet government or industry standards was used in the course of work. Claims have also been made against manufacturers who make faulty safety equipment. Damages to cover medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses may be collected. In some cases, workers who developed silicosis due to occupational exposure may have died. In those casesFree Web Content, a family member or executioner of the estate may file a suit on behalf of the worker.

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LegalView offers an array of resources through including information on brain injury jury verdicts, truck accidents and the recent Durom cup recall. Also use to learn more about silicosis.

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