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OSHA provides guidelines for silica exposure on the job

Connecticut residents who work in construction or other industries where exposure to silica is a possible danger may be concerned about related long-term health consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a fact sheet to accompany rules that lay out the standards for exposure to respirable crystalline silica, a substance that could lead to the development of occupational diseases like silicosis. The fact sheet provides suggested and required actions that employers can take to implement the standards for exposure to the mineral substance in order to reduce the danger to employees, including providing training and establishing plans in case of exposure.

Throughout the country, 2.3 million American workers are regularly exposed to silica dust. This number includes 2 million construction workers, who are at the greatest risk from the substance. The OSHA regulation lowers the limit for permissible exposure to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for respirable crystalline silica, as measured as an average over an eight-hour shift on the job. Crystalline silica is known to pose a number of serious health risks and is a carcinogen.

One of the most serious threats of silica exposure is the danger of silicosis, a serious occupational disease that scars the lungs and severely limits sufferers' ability to breathe. The chronic disorder begins to develop when workers inhale small particles of silica dust at the workplace. When these particles enter the lungs, they trigger a bodily immune response that eventually leads to severe scarring.

Most workers who have faced exposure to silica dust on the job or other toxic substances and are now suffering from diseases or disorders as a result have a right to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. They might want to have an attorney's assistance at the outset of the process.

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