Workers in Pennsylvania who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica should be aware of a fact sheet published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The purpose of the publication is to the assist employers with adhering to the standard established by the agency for breathable crystalline silica for the general industry and maritime sector.
On the fact sheet, employers are provided instructions on what to do to protect employees. They include providing training, evaluating workplace exposures and creating written plans for exposure control.
Crystalline silica is found in stone, sand and artificial stone. It is a carcinogenic substance that can induce silicosis, a chronic medical condition that causes scarring in the lungs. According to OSHA, an estimated 2.3 million workers, mostly in the construction industry, are exposed to silica dust.
The final rule issued by OSHA reduces the allowable exposure limit set for respirable crystalline silica across all industries. The new, lower limit is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged for a work shift that is eight hours long.
The final rule was issued by the agency as two distinct standards: one for general industry and maritime and another for the construction industry. While both of the standards became enforceable in June 2016, employers in the general industry and maritime sectors have been allowed until June 23, 2018, to be in compliance.
Workers who have developed an occupational disease because of the unsafe working conditions may qualify for workers compensation benefits. An attorney who practices workers comp law may assist clients with filing for benefits or appealing denied claims. The attorney may litigate to ensure that an injured client receives sufficient benefits to apply to medical expenses or lost wages caused by the workplace illness.