All jobs come with their own set of risks, but some are obviously more dangerous than others. While injury and death are a concern on many job sites, the silent, slow effects of deadly diseases may go overlooked. Exposure to certain materials for prolonged periods of time can be extremely harmful to the body. Silicosis is one of those diseases and affects those doing foundry work, glass manufacturing or mining.
Workers in certain industries may breathe in tiny pieces of a mineral made of up mineral ores, rock and sand, also known as silica. These tiny particles, not visible to the naked eye, collect in the lungs and cause scarring, which can be detrimental to the body’s ability to breathe.
Interesting facts about silicosis
Most Americans may not have even heard of this condition, but there are several important facts that all workers should know to assess their risks on the job and to determine if their employer has the proper safety protocols in place.
- Silicosis is categorized into three different types: accelerated, chronic and acute.
- Workers in construction, ceramics, quarrying, stone cutting, steel industry, tunnel work, masonry and mining jobs are at higher risks.
- In the United States, it is estimated that close to two million workers are still exposed to silica on the job.
- Silicosis can be prevented but not cured.
At least 100 deaths occur in the United States each year from lung damage caused by silicosis. All employers are required by law to provide workers with clothing and equipment necessary to protect your body from silica. It is also recommended that workers get a medical examination immediately upon getting one of the jobs listed above, and every three years after.
What is it like to live with silicosis?
Accurate diagnosis and treatment is vital to improving your quality of life when you deal with silicosis. Managing silicosis includes education about the disease, yearly vaccinations, minimizing further exposure and no smoking. You should also be vigilant about watching for infections in the lungs once silicosis has developed. Early diagnosis and care can seriously improve the chances of living a long, happy life even with silicosis. Once the disease has developed, there is no way to cure it. Prevention is the best way to stop silicosis, and your employer must abide by the right safety requirements to protect employees.
If you feel you were not warned or fairly protected from exposure to silica and you live with silicosis now, you may benefit from speaking to an attorney about your possible options when it comes to compensation.