Kitchen countertops may seem harmless, but researchers have discovered an increase in cases of silicosis, an incurable lung disease, among workers who fabricate countertops made from engineered stone. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of an emerging public health threat to stone fabrication workers.
Silicosis is a lung disease that develops when a person inhales fine particles of silica dust. Over time, the dust builds up, leading to scarring that makes it difficult to breathe. There is no cure for silicosis. Prior to 2017, only one case of silicosis had been reported in the United States. Researchers subsequently studied hospital discharge data and electronic medical records to discover 18 cases of silicosis, two of which were fatal. A cluster of cases was discovered among workers at a stone countertop manufacturing facility in Texas.
According to the CDC report, there is an urgent need to reduce workers’ exposure to silica by introducing regulatory enforcement and better workplace medical surveillance. Congress has also urged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to improve protections for engineered stone fabrication workers who are at risk for developing silicosis, along with enhanced monitoring at fabrication facilities. Researchers also recommended that employers conduct medical screenings and implement more controls for monitoring worker exposure to crystalline silica.
New hazards continue to be identified in workplaces throughout the country. It may take months or years before the harmful consequences of exposure to hazardous substances becomes apparent. If you or someone you know suffered a work injury, speak to a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Gross & Kenny, LLP today. Our mission is to help workers recover fully by obtaining maximum compensation for their injuries. Call us today at 267-589-0090 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. From our office in Philadelphia, we assist employees throughout Pennsylvania.
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