A growing number of stone workers who work with engineered countertops are developing serious illnesses, such as silicosis, from inhaling silica dust particles. This has brought renewed scrutiny to the safety standards of the stone fabricators’ employers. Multiple manufacturers and suppliers are facing silicosis lawsuits from stone workers who say that they were subject to unsafe respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure due to negligent worksite conditions.
If you are a stone worker who has become seriously ill after being exposed to high levels of silica dust at work, you may be entitled to recover compensation for damages like medical bills, lost wages, loss of quality of life, and emotional distress inflicted by injuries like silicosis.
Table of contents
- Understanding Who Qualifies for Compensation in a Silicosis Lawsuit
- Debilitating Illnesses Like Silicosis and Lung Cancer Linked to Silica Dust
- Stone Workers Are Exposed to Unsafe Levels of Silica Dust on the Job
- Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Stone Worker Silicosis Lawsuit Today
Understanding Who Qualifies for Compensation in a Silicosis Lawsuit
The focus of the latest group of silicosis lawsuits is stone workers who have been cutting and polishing newer, engineered stone countertops that contain higher concentrations of silica. Exposure to silica dust has long been associated with damage to the lungs, but the increased popularity of synthetic countertops made with quartz shards and resin requires an additional level of caution from employers that has not manifested for many stone fabricators. If you are unsure whether or not you are eligible to file a stone worker silicosis lawsuit against your employer, you first need to meet the following criteria:
- Your employment required you to work with stone materials that contained silica
- You were exposed to silica dust due to a lack of safety measures.
- You have since developed a serious illness related to your exposure to silica dust, such as silicosis
It is also necessary to be able to demonstrate that your injuries resulted in damages, such as medical bills or reduced earning capacity. If you are not an American citizen, that does not necessarily prevent you from filing a stone worker silicosis lawsuit, but you should speak with a qualified personal injury attorney for more information about how this can impact your case.
In cases where the stone worker succumbed to their illness, the family they left behind has to cope with the emotional and financial fallout. Provided that their loved one met the aforementioned criteria, families of deceased stone workers can pursue personal injury claims to recover compensation for costs like funeral and burial expenses or loss of parental guidance.
Debilitating Illnesses Like Silicosis and Lung Cancer Linked to Silica Dust
Regulatory agencies like OSHA have been aware of the dangers of silica crystalline dust for years, but artificially constructed quartz countertops present a greater threat to the health of stone workers than natural stone. The issue is that when cut, the newer countertops produce so much silica dust that stone workers are developing these serious illnesses decades earlier.
In cases of illnesses like silicosis, the damage done to the lungs is claiming the lives of people in early middle age, or even in their 30s. Illnesses caused by silica dust exposure include:
- Lung cancer
- Kidney disease
- Lung infections
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
When silica dust is inhaled, it cuts and irritates the lungs. This can lead to scarring and oftentimes the eventual hardening of the lungs, which interferes with the ability to breathe properly. As a result, stone workers with health conditions like silicosis may be unable to work or even physically exert themselves in a lesser capacity. In severe cases, the lungs begin to fail, making a lung transplant the only viable option to extend life.
Stone Workers Are Exposed to Unsafe Levels of Silica Dust on the Job
Employers are legally obligated to take reasonable precautions to limit the risk of serious injury or illness to their employees. The employers of stone workers are being criticized for failing to provide safe working conditions for their employees. Given the well-documented history of silica dust-induced illnesses, employers should have installed protections long ago. However, stone workers say that employers did not adequately ventilate workspaces and neglected to supply the equipment necessary to limit the silica dust particles produced during the cutting process.
One method to reduce the amount of silica dust expelled into the air during the cutting process is using a wet saw. A continuous stream of water keeps the blade wet, which in turn controls the volume of dust generated. Using a wet saw, especially in enclosed spaces, is considered the best practice for cutting materials that contain high levels of silica, but in a survey of stone workers, only half said that their workplaces used wet saws.
While wet saws are helpful for prevention purposes, silica dust is still released into the air, so it is important for employers to use additional methods to protect their workers. For example, proper ventilation gives the silica dust a way to dissipate and allows fresh air to enter the workspace. Employers also need to provide face masks or respirators and make it a policy to wear them. Experts are now encouraging respirators with fuller coverage given the health risks associated with breathing in significant amounts of silica dust.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Stone Worker Silicosis Lawsuit Today
Stone workers who have been exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust in the workplace should not have to be responsible for the repercussions of their employer’s negligence. With the help of our experienced legal team, you can increase the likelihood of maximizing your compensation for your damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and mental anguish.
Our comprehensive legal services include researching the employer’s history, investigating the worksite itself, collecting and analyzing evidence, drafting statements, preparing you for depositions, engaging expert witnesses, and spearheading negotiations. We are committed to supporting you in navigating the personal injury claims process.
Take advantage of a free consultation with one of our expert personal injury lawyers by scheduling a free consultation. Our team can provide insight into the personal injury claims process, help ensure that you understand your rights, and evaluate your damages to give an estimate of their value. We can be reached at (866) 535-9515 or contacted through our contact form.