When you go to work, you may not give a lot of thought to the things that could potentially cause you harm. You might not think about the risks you face that could lead to a workplace accident or the environmental factors that could make you ill. However, certain types of workplaces come with more risks than others, including the risk of silica dust exposure.
Silica is a substance that can lead to certain types of health problems when inhaled. The dust is prevalent in certain types of tasks and when using certain types of materials, and exposure is a particular concern for those who work in the countertop industry. It has been a concern for decades, and some believe that regulations regarding silica are not strong enough to really protect the health of workers.
Workers’ comp and silica
Workers’ compensation benefits exist to protect the interests of injured workers, as well as those who become ill as a result of their work. Whether a person suffers injury in a forklift accident or gets sick because of toxic mold in the workplace, a claim can help a California worker recover certain types of losses and cover medical bills during recovery. Silica-related illness are legitimate occupational diseases and considered to be valid reasons to file a workers’ comp claim.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has new standards in place that are supposed to protect workers from dangerous levels of silica dust exposure. OSHA implemented a national program that is supposed to identify potential sources of exposure and eliminate unnecessary contact. However, this may not be enough.
Are stronger regulations necessary?
Employers must comply with the standards set by OSHA, but there are some specific types of jobs that may need to adhere to stronger standards. In the manufactured countertop industry, the development of silicosis, a silica-related illness, is a particular concern. Countertop workers are often exposed because of tasks such as crushing, drilling and sawing certain types of materials.
Help for sick workers
Employers are responsible for making sure workers are as safe as reasonably possible, especially when it comes to exposure to things that can make them dangerously sick. If your work made you ill in some way, you have the right to seek benefits through a workers’ compensation claim. You also have the right to pursue the full amount of support you need and fight to maximize your claim.