Very few people would choose to accept a position at a workplace if they knew that in accepting that position, they would be routinely exposed to a toxic substance and placed at an elevated risk of developing a chronic and potentially fatal health condition. But when it comes to toxic exposure in the workplace, skilled workers in several construction and industrial trades are in fact routinely exposed to just such a scenario.
The federal government has placed limits on the amount of toxic substances workers can be exposed to on the job, but workers can still suffer serious injuries or even death as a result of exposure. Silica dust is one of these harmful substances that can cause serious health complications for American workers, particularly in the construction industry.
Earlier this month, New Yorkers looked back on the anniversary of September 11. Over the course of this month, we have seen several news stories linking the first responders and other people who worked at the site of the World Trade Center in the days that followed September 11 with nearly 60 types of cancer.
We frequently write about safety hazards in the workplace that can lead to serious work-related injuries. However, a staggering number of American workers are harmed not by injuries at work but by toxic exposure that leads to severe occupational illness. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently attempting to curb some of the most serious illnesses individuals develop in the workplace through a newly proposed rule that would help to prevent toxic exposure to crystalline silica.