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OSHA contends that outdated silica standards are endangering lives of millions

Individuals who work in several industries including construction, mining, commercial fishing and healthcare are regularly required to work in environments and carry out work assignments that threatened their safety and health. In some cases, occupational hazards and the related possible consequences are obvious. In other cases, workers may not be able to see or may be unaware of the imminent danger posed by certain chemicals, substances and materials.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration define crystalline silica as "a basic component of soil, sand, granite and many other materials." When these materials are cut, crushed or ground; tiny silica particles are released into the air. For workers who are exposed to and breathe in these particles, the negative health effects are significant and can result in disease, disability and death.

Every year, OSHA estimates that roughly 1.7 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to dangerously high levels of respirable silica dust. Some of these workers will develop disabling lung diseases and conditions including silicosis and lung cancer. OSHA estimates that approximately 1,600 cases of work-related silicosis are diagnosed each year with 100 deaths attributed to this occupational disease.

The dangers associated with silica exposure are known and widely documented. It’s unfathomable, therefore, that the health and very lives of so many workers continue to be put at risk due to silica exposure. Officials at OSHA are attempting to change this by proposing amendments to the current permissible exposure levels of silica. Officials at the agency contend that such an amendment would prevent injury and death among the estimated 600,000 workers who, on a daily basis, are exposed to unsafe silica levels.

Individuals who know or believe that an injury, medical condition or disease was caused by exposure to dangerous chemicals or materials at work would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney.

Source: WRVO.org, "Proposed OSHA regulations target fatal disease that remains daily risk for many workers," Michelle Faust, July 27, 2015

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