Job Injuries, Job-Related Injuries and the Threat of Silicosis

On the afternoon of March 15, 2008, a tower crane being used in the construction of a 43-story concrete- framed building in New York, New York, collapsed, resulting to the death of six workers and one civilian. When the accident occurred, the workers were said to be setting lateral tie beams which were supposed to provide lateral support to the crane from the 18th floor.

Despite the damage wrought by this tower crane accident, it may still be considered minimal compared to the many other construction and industrial accidents in the past which claimed many lives, injured so many others and destroyed properties worth millions of dollars. The continuous occurrence of workplace accidents, despite their being preventable, only show that occupational dangers are still faced by all kinds of employees, regardless of the type of work they were hired to do and the workplace where they perform their job; it is also undeniable that some occupational dangers are much less serious than others, causing nothing more than minor injuries, while others are severe, able to cause major changes in the lives of those who get injured and their families.

Data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) show that, in 2007, worker death tolls were 5,488 for job injuries, which are injuries occurring in relation to one’s job, or injuries that arise due to, and during, employment, and 49,000 for job-related injuries, or injuries which may be sustained even outside of the company’s premises (in connection to this, the US Department of Labor considers as work-related any injury sustained by those working at home or working in a home office, so long as such injury or illness is directly related to the work they are being paid for); about 4 million workers were also reported to have suffered non-fatal work-related injuries. Most of these injuries involved workers in construction sites, where millions of workers are employed and regularly exposed to heavy equipment, sharp tools, toxic substances, and many other possible causes of bodily harm.

According to the website of The Law Offices of Jeff Benton, employers have the primary duty to see to it that their employees are protected from possible workplace mishaps, which can cause job injuries which, in turn, can result to loss of income, huge medical bills, reduced earning potential, and so forth. Due to these financially burdensome repercussions, the said firm informs those who may get injured of their right to pursue compensation for any injury they have unfortunately sustained.

Injuries are not the only concern of the government and employers, though, for hundreds of thousands of workers, many of whom are already retired and sick, also get diagnosed with illnesses that have developed due to prolonged and regular exposure to poisonous substances at work. One kind of substance that has caused serious lung disease in workers is silica (or crystalline silica), one of earth’s most common minerals and a basic component of granite and sand.

Foundry workers, miners and sandblasters are among those who are regularly exposed to silica and, therefore, the ones most in danger of developing silicosis, a serious lung disease, pulmonary tuberculosis or lung cancer, which can be caused by inhalation of silica particles.

According to the website of Williams Kherkher, there are three types of silicosis, namely:

  • Simple chronic silicosis – develops at least 20 years after having been exposed to low amounts of silica particles or dust
  • Accelerated silicosis – takes about 5 to 15 years to develop due to exposure to larger amounts of silica particles
  • Acute silicosis – the result of exposure to huge amounts of silica. This usually develops after weeks or months of exposure to silica’s toxic dust.

Silicosis, has no cure or particular treatment, other than bronchodilators, cough suppressants, and, if needed, oxygen. A person who is suffering from this type of lung disease can fall into deep financial problems fast due to the high cost of medical treatment alone. It is, therefore, important that he or she find a seasoned personal injury lawyer immediately for the possible compensation that he or she may be allowed by the law to receive.

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