Dust from Artificial Stone Linked to Irreversible Lung Injury in WorkersNovember 1, 2019
Engineered stone is one of the most popular materials used for countertops in kitchens and bathrooms. Unlike natural stone, engineered stone counters are less likely to crack or stain and are easy to clean. However, because countertops are made up of 90 percent silica, workers who are exposed to silica dust develop health risks, including silicosis, which is a serious and progressive lung disease. The only treatment for silicosis is a lung transplant. There are several steps employers can take to protect workers from being exposed to hazardous silica dust, including only working with the material when it is wet and using the proper filtration systems to remove dust from the air.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that described 18 cases of illnesses and two deaths among workers in four states. Most of the workers were Hispanic men, many of whom had severe cases of the progressive disease. According to an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC, the workers responsible for cutting engineered stone are exposed to high levels of silica, and more workers are going to get sick if employers do not take steps to prevent silica exposure.
Companies who manufacture engineered stone claim that engineered stone is not the only material that can cause dust-related diseases. In fact, a statement from a manufacturer of engineered stone claimed these surfaces are completely safe once they are installed, provided the installation is performed according to the recommended practices. However, all the workers from the study who became ill worked with engineered stone.
Controlling Dust is Crucial to Preventing Work-Related Silicosis
According to an epidemiologist, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a hazard alert in 2015 warning people about the risk of exposure to natural and artificial stone countertops, and the harmful dust they produce. The key to effective prevention involves controlling the harmful dust. The following is a hierarchy of controls that can be used:
- Eliminate tasks that risk exposure.
- Substitute non-crystalline-silica materials for crystalline silica materials.
- Use an exhaust ventilation system or a water spray to limit the amount of silica in the air.
- Limit the amount of time workers are exposed to silica.
- Wear personal protective equipment.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Workers Exposed to Silica Dust
If you have developed silicosis or any other type of lung illness after being exposed to harmful silica in the workplace, you are urged to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will ensure that you receive the full financial benefits you are entitled, including medical expenses, lost wages, and any other expenses related to your injury. We will protect your rights and guide you through every step of the claims process. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.