When people in California design their new home or plan a remodel of their kitchen or bath, there are likely a multitude of different issues that they take into consideration. Most of these surround their personal preferences and cost of material and installation. Unfortunately, some people are urging those making such decisions to determine whether certain safety practices are in place if they are considering the use of artificial stone countertops. Reports indicate that these countertops can lead to a work-related illness.
The engineered countertops are composed primarily of silica. Silica is a mineral that can cause serious lung damage if inhaled. Inhalation can lead to silicosis, a potentially progressive disease that has no treatment other than a lung transplant.
For example, a 37-year-old man who was employed as a cutter and polisher of the countertops has been diagnosed with the disease. He claims that he is dizzy, weak and can no longer play with his children. He knows of at least two people employed at the same company who have died from silicosis, both of whom were in their 30s.
There are certain safety precautions that can be put in place to protect workers, such as cutting the stone when wet and removing the dust with a filtration system. Unfortunately, there are 18 cases of the disease, including the two people who died. Perhaps news of the harm that these workers in California and other areas of the country are now suffering will bring about change, but in the meantime victims — including the family members of the deceased — of the work-related illness are suffering. Because they are suffering as a result of their job-related tasks, they may qualify for workers’ compensation insurance benefits, which can help them cope with medical expenses, funeral costs and lost wages.