Unfortunately, construction sites can be some of the most common places for workplace injuries and accidents. In addition, Florida construction workers can face danger from some of the materials they are exposed to on the job, including breathable silica. While federal enforcement of a regulation on silica protection went into effect in late 2017, industry compliance continues to be incomplete in spring 2018.
Silica dust can lead to devastating and costly occupational diseases. When construction workers breathe in the particles, it can cause irreversible lung damage. Scars caused by the silica particles can lead to silicosis, a disease that affects breathing and can be fatal. Because of the threat of silicosis, acceptable levels of exposure to silica were lowered by 80 percent in March 2016 and enforcement began in September 2017.
While the danger of silica to workers is well-known, compliance continues to lag behind in many places. As of April 2018, 116 companies were cited for silica violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the number of citations issued is expected to increase. In many of these cases, silica violations were also combined with other dangerous safety issues that also posed a threat to workers, including a lack of fall protection on the job. Under the rule, construction companies must monitor the level of silica dust and take action if it rises above the limit.
In the meantime, as violations continue and companies continue to lag behind on compliance, construction workers will remain vulnerable to occupational disease. People who have become sick due to toxic exposure on the job may want to work with a workers' compensation attorney. A lawyer could help an injured worker pursue the compensation to which they are entitled.