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Silicosis

New York Workers' Comp Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with silicosis, the time to act is now. Occupational or other exposure to silica dust may cause this life-threatening respiratory disorder. Depending on how and where your exposure occurred, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits or may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Our New York workers' compensation attorneys can talk to you about your particular situation to determine the best approach to your case. With offices located in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Florida, California and Illinois, we represent clients across the country who have been diagnosed with silicosis.

About Silicosis

Silicosis is a disabling and sometimes fatal respiratory condition caused by inhaling silica dust. Silica is a naturally-occurring crystal that can be found in most rock beds across the planet. It is also a main component of sand. In its dust form, silica is easily inhaled and may become embedded in the lung tissue, where it may cause swelling in the lungs and chest lymph nodes. Workers in a number of fields may be at risk of developing silicosis due to silica dust exposure. This includes workers in construction, sandblasting, masonry, mining, demolition and glass manufacturing.

The primary symptoms of silicosis are chronic cough, shortness of breath and weight loss. These may present in varying degrees, depending on the severity of the condition. Some other signs of silicosis may include fever, lips or earlobes with a bluish tint, fatigue and chest pain. When the disease it in its advanced stages, breathing will become increasingly difficult and respiratory failure may occur. People with silicosis may also be at an increased risk of developing tuberculosis and must be regularly tested for it.

There are three primary types of silicosis:

Simple Chronic Silicosis This is the most common form of silicosis and is caused by long-term exposure to small amounts of silica dust, typically for a period of more than 20 years. Difficulty breathing is one of the most common symptoms of this disease.

Accelerated Silicosis This type of silicosis occurs after exposure to higher amounts of silica dust over a period of 5 to 15 years. The symptoms present more quickly and are often more severe than in cases of low exposure over a longer period of time (simple chronic silicosis).

Acute Silicosis Short term exposure of high amounts of silica dust may cause this form of silicosis, characterized by swelling and fluid filling the lungs, which may cause low blood oxygen levels and extreme difficulty breathing. The onset of symptoms may be sudden and severe.

At this time, there is no single treatment for silicosis. The effects of silica dust on the lungs are irreversible; patients with severe silicosis may require lung transplants to have any chance of surviving.

At-Risk Professions

Workers in certain professions may be at a higher risk of developing silicosis from silica dust exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, recognizes the dangers silica dust presents to workers and therefore sets forth specific standards that apply to shipyard employment, the general industry and the construction industry. OSHA and individual state regulations may impact how exposure to silica is addressed in the workplace.

The following is a partial list of the types of workers that may be exposed to silica dust:

  • Construction workers;
  • Miners;
  • Sandblasters;
  • Masons;
  • Roadway construction workers;
  • Workers in rock quarries;
  • Demolition workers;
  • Railroad construction workers;
  • Painters;
  • Plumbers;
  • Foundry workers;
  • Welders;
  • Maritime workers; and
  • Workers who deal with cement, glass products, fire bricks, ceramics, stones and rocks.

People at the types of worksites discussed above may also be at risk of exposure, even if they do not work directly with sand, cement, glass or other substances that may produce silica dust when drilled, cut, sandblasted or otherwise manipulated. Without proper ventilation, airborne silica dust may affect all workers in the area.

Diagnosed with silicosis? Take legal action.

If you are suffering from silicosis, lung cancer or any type of medical condition caused by exposure to crystalline silica, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or other party that is responsible for your exposure. Your options and the best approach will vary depending on how exposure occurred. By investigating the matter and applying our knowledge of personal injury law, workers' comp and all other relevant subjects, we can help you seek medical care and monetary damages.

For a free case review, contact a New York workers' compensation lawyer at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC today.