Crystalline silica is an extremely hazardous mineral contained in sand, soil and rock in the crust of the earth. Unprotected workers in Ohio and across the country breathe the microscopic particles into their lungs without knowing that they could cause silicosis. Silicosis is an irreversible, disabling lung disease that could be fatal.
Workers at risk include those working in construction, agriculture, manufacturing and mining. Working with substances like rock, granite, mortar, sand and masonry should not be done without respiratory protection. Soil, tiles, plaster abrasives and concrete pose similar risks. Whenever any of these substances are disturbed by cutting, grinding and other processes, the particles become airborne, ready to find their way into the lungs of unprotected workers.
Symptoms for which workers should look out include severe coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue and weakness, fever and loss of appetite. However, silicosis is a progressive disease, and workers may not become aware of the symptoms until it has already developed into a life-threatening illness. Employers must inform workers of all potential hazards of their jobs, and provide the necessary personal protective equipment, but not all comply with those safety standards.
Workers in Ohio with silicosis symptoms may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, navigating the claims process could be difficult because the disease has no discernable date of onset, and proving it to be work-related will not be easy. This is where the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney come in. Legal counsel can take over the benefits claims process and fight for maximum applicable compensation, which will often include more than the typical compensation for medical expenses and lost wages in the case of silicosis.