Construction workers in Minnesota need to be aware of the dangers of inhaling crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is a dangerous mineral that causes a condition known as silicosis. Over 2 million construction workers and 300,000 workers in the hydraulic manufacturing, maritime and general industry fields are exposed to it.
Crystalline silica is found in both crystal and non-crystal form and is typically found in sandstone, shale, sand and granite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that when these materials are drilled into, crushed, broken or chipped they form dust. The dust particles are so small that they are easily inhaled, penetrating the worker’s lungs and causing breathing difficulties.
The American Lung Association says that silicosis can be acute, chronic or accelerated. It can take up to 30 years to appear. Silicosis can cause permanent scarring of the lungs, which can make breathing problematic. Those who have been diagnosed with silicosis are more likely to develop other related conditions, which include chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and lung cancer.
There is no cure for silicosis but there are different treatments that can be used to minimize its symptoms. Because of the severity of the condition, the CDC recommends that employers take steps to prevent exposure to crystalline silica to protect the health and safety of their employees. If an employer knows that its employees are at-risk and doesn’t take steps to prevent the crystalline silica from being inhaled, it may have behaved negligently and might be fined by OSHA. People who find themselves in this situation might want to have the assistance of an attorney when seeking their rightful benefits under their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage.