Workers in New Jersey, especially in the construction industry, are at risk of silica exposure. Inhaling this dangerous carcinogen can lead to the development of severe occupational diseases like silicosis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued rules along with a fact sheet that seeks to encourage employers to come into compliance with its standards for exposure to respirable crystalline silica. OSHA has mandated that employers take actions to protect employees from the dangers of silica exposure, including providing training, establishing plans in case of exposure and assessing the workplace dangers of exposure.

The OSHA rule lowers the permissible exposure threshold for respirable crystalline silica to only 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This amount is measured as an average over an eight-hour work shift. Crystalline silica is known to pose a threat of cancer. It is found in a number of materials, including artificial stone, natural stone and sand. One particular danger of silica exposure is the development of silicosis, a serious occupational disease.

The disease often develops in workers who are involved in grinding, sanding or digging. When small silica particles are inhaled on the job and enter the lungs, they can trigger an immune response that eventually leads to inflammation, scarring and injured lungs.

A worker who has been exposed to toxic or dangerous materials like silica and developed an occupational disease may be eligible to seek compensation for their bills and expenses. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help to ensure a fair payment for a client.