Silica dust exposure is associated with construction activities and materials. In particular, sandblasting practices release silica (silicon dioxide) in ways not normally found in nature. As a result, many construction workers may develop silicosis, or “sandblasting disease” from inhaling silica dust.
Silica is the main ingredient found in glass and glass products. Silica dust can be extremely hazardous when inhaled over long periods of time or in large quantities. Silica dust exposure is similar to asbestos exposure and may often result in legal claims due to improper practices.
Silicosis, or silica dust poisoning, is a progressive lung disease. The silica dust creates scar tissue in the lungs and can often be fatal. Silicosis symptoms include respiratory impairment, difficulty breathing, and increased risk of cardio-pulmonary diseases and lung cancer.
There are three different types of silicosis:
- Simple Silicosis: This results from exposure to low amounts of silica over long periods of times. Also called “simple chronic silicosis”, it can lead to breathlessness and difficulty breathing. Most cases involve exposure to silica dust for periods of over 20 years.
- Accelerated Silicosis: This results from exposure to silica dust in higher amounts over a shorter time period (usually 5-15 years). Symptoms include lung inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue. Accelerated silicosis is marked by faster progression of symptoms than in simple silicosis.
- Acute Silicosis: This form is caused by exposure to very high amounts of silica dust in a short period of time. Symptoms include inflamed lungs or fluid in the lungs, resulting in lower blood oxygen counts.
When filing a silica dust exposure lawsuit, an expert medical witness may be needed to determine the type of silicosis that the plaintiff has, as well as the extent of their injury or injuries.
In most cases, silicosis can be classified as an on-the-job injury. Legal remedies for silicosis can often take the form of worker’s compensation claims. Such claims typically argue that the employer failed to ensure the safety of employee’s work environment or equipment. The worker is often entitled to benefits such as injury payment and medical leave.
If a large number of persons have been exposed to silica dust, it is possible for legal remedies to be sought through a toxic exposure class action suit. Class action lawsuits can often yield significant damages awards for the persons affected.
Other legal remedies include monetary compensation through a civil lawsuit. This is often the case if the silicosis is traceable to a manufacturer of silica-based products. In these cases, legal remedies may be based on product liability theories.
As in any toxic exposure claim, silica dust exposure lawsuits can often be complex. They typically require the professional assistance of an expert witness and an attorney who is knowledgeable of silicosis laws. You may wish to hire a personal injury lawyer if you need legal representation in a silica dust exposure lawsuit. Your attorney can argue on your behalf to obtain the appropriate legal remedy for you.