Minnesota workers who have to deal with fine grains of silica on the job, especially those created from drilling, sanding or other types of labor, may face serious dangers. These workers, especially those with repeated silica exposure over time, could develop lung and breathing problems. While the issues with respirable silica may be best known in the construction industry, employees in other fields also deal with dangerous exposure, especially if their workplaces fail to take the proper precautions to protect workplace safety.
Between July 2018 and December 2019, OSHA and some state agencies issued 720 violations for companies in general industry over respirable silica exposure. These penalties totaled over $1.5 million, but workers could face even more serious costs, in terms of medical bills as well as their health. The most common form of violation was the failure to assess exposure. Employers in general industry have a responsibility to measure air quality. This includes sampling air to test for the presence of respirable silica. If they fail to test, workers may not know the types of risk they face.
The third most common violation was for exposure above permissible limits, sometimes combined with the above. When OSHA inspectors took air samples, they found dangerous levels of respirable silica in the air, which could damage workers’ health. In addition, employers are also responsible for providing a plan of action for exposure control. Without a written plan of action for each local worksite, workers may not know what to do in case of silica exposure.
Workers dealing with potentially toxic chemicals or dangerous particles like respirable silica might face long-term costs associated with exposure. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help affected employees to pursue the benefits they deserve.