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OSHA may regulate silica dust exposure more closely

Workers in Pennsylvania who encounter silica or sand during the course of their occupation may soon enjoy new workplace protections thanks to a prospective change in the safety regulations proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is estimated that nearly 2 million Americans are exposed to silica or sand in toxic manners while at work.

For example, there are more than 100,000 people employed in stonecutting or other rock-related industries who might breathe in silica from cutting stone at work. Inhaling silica could lead to a painful and generally incurable lung condition called silicosis. The World Health Organization has also recognized silica dust to be a lung carcinogen since 1997.

It is hoped that new OSHA regulations would prevent exposure and save lives. It is expected that the regulations could prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis and save almost 700 lives a year.

In addition to the risk to life, exposure to this dust has potential to seriously damage the economic future of the employee who suffers from them. The harm to the economics prospects and earning power that comes from an on the job injury renders the hurt worker eligible for workers' compensation payments. If it can be shown that the employer operated their business in defiance of the law and reasonable safety standards, then it may be possible to gain greater compensation by filing a civil suit against them directly. In order to accomplish this, one must first withdraw the automatic workers' compensation claim that comes with any work related injury. Anyone considering such a serious step may wish to consult with an attorney at law, as they may be able to provide helpful advice and give the prospective plaintiff some idea of what to expect with any particular course of action.

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