Silicosis is a pulmonary disease that is caused by exposure to minute
particles of dust which can get into a persons lungs. It is typically
found in certain types of workers who are exposed to "silica". Long-term
exposure to free crystalline "silica", which is essentially dust, enters
the lungs of a victim. The lungs will react to the silica by developing
scarring around the silica which leads to a dangerous condition making it
difficult for a person to breath. Many people with silicosis eventually
die and are at a high risk of developing other diseases such as
tuberculosis. Silicosis has been commonly referred to as miners asthma
and potters rot.
The most common form of silicosis might not be detected for 10-35 years
after a workers initial exposure. Some telltale symptoms of silica
exposure include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and severe
cough and flu-like symptoms. Silicosis can be detected by a simple chest
x-ray. By the time silicosis is diagnosed, it is often too late for the
victim to fully recover.
Workers at Risk
It is estimated that over 3 million workers in the United States are
exposed to silica dust. Silica dust can be created by any activity that
breaks rocks, concrete, or any other material that contains silica.
Workers who engage in the following activities are at a high risk of
developing silicosis: at the greatest risk include miners, drillers,
sandblasters, foundry workers ( mold shake-outs or knockouts, sand
screening, sand recovery, conveying, grinding, etc.), cement, stone, clay,
brick and glass production are at risk. Manufacture of paints, plastics,
soaps, and detergents also produce silica dust. As a result, workers in
the railroad, maritime, construction, and mining industries are often at
- Persons engaged in chipping, hammering, crushing, loading and
transporting rock products
- Persons involved in the sandblasting of buildings or old oilfield
equipment involving concrete or other materials
- Persons who extensively saw, hammer, drill, grind, chip, or work with
concrete or other rock substances
- Persons involved in the shipbuilding industry
- Miners, both surface and underground
- Railroad workers
- Glass manufacturing
- Welders and grinders
OSHA says silicosis is 100% preventable with properly working
protective equipment. Many individuals who work in high risk areas for
silicosis such as miners and sandblasters can be protected from silicosis
by means of respirators, gas masks, and other equipment designed to
prevent silica from entering the lungs. Unfortunately, many employers in
the industry have sacrificed safety for profit and have failed to provide
workers with proper respiratory equipment.
If you or someone you love suffers from any of the foregoing symptoms,
and have been exposed to silica, you may have legal rights to pursue
remedies for your injuries. Please contact a lawyer to
find out your rights.
- Extends to all persons employed on a vessel to
assist in the main purpose of the voyage.
- Extends to all persons whose duties are maritime
in character and rendered on vessels engaged in commerce or trade, in
- Includes anyone employed on a vessel to which an
American corporation holds legal title and which another American
corporation operates under demise charter.
- Shall include persons who otherwise might be
deemed not to be a seamen; it includes some that might otherwise be
excluded; it does not take anyone out who would otherwise be there.