Continuous exposure to silica can attract dangerous consequences for the victims who encounter the element. However, most people who experience adverse health conditions from exposure to silica are in work environments. As a result, it becomes difficult for them to avoid getting into contact with the harmful elements of their day to day activities, as it is a significant part of the work. The health complications that arise from silica contamination are severe and result in extended life conditions that can quickly turn fatal. Consequently, affected victims risk suffering from severe health deterioration and loss of livelihoods from the effects. Among the diseases that commonly attack people exposed to silica is Silicosis, a painful condition that negatively affects your lungs. The results are irreversible and have claimed the lives of many affected people. Therefore, you must seek legal redress for the harm you face upon working in environments that expose you to silica. With adequate compensation, you will have sufficient financial support to cater for medical expenses and other costs that arise after beginning treatment.
The process of filing a civil suit is often cumbersome, particularly if you do not have prior legal experience. Hence, most people opt for out of court settlements for their grievances instead of proceeding with the suit. However, it is essential to note that any payments you undertake without a lawyer are likely to be inadequate for your claims and lead to unfair reimbursement. Therefore, we recommend consulting with Consumer Alert Now for professional legal advice on filing a class-action lawsuit for contracted Silicosis. Thanks to our wealth of experience and availability of services throughout the country, you can rely on us to obtain reliable services for your pending lawsuit.
Understanding What Silicosis Is
Silicosis is a health condition that arises from prolonged exposure to Silica, a mineral element that forms a significant part of some common minerals. For example, large silica deposits are available in Granite, sand, and sandstone, which are standard components in the construction industry.
When you work in industries that handle the silica raw materials, or products manufactured from processing the element, you are at a higher risk of getting Silicosis, based on the increased exposure levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also recognizes the condition, stating that it arises from silica dust’s continuous inhalation. After some time, the exposure will cause severe respiratory infections that can damage the lungs and develop into worse situations.
If you are an industrial park employee, you will need to take extra precautions while at work to prevent the inhalation of excess silica dust. Therefore, specific groups of employees should take extra precautions to avoid the following conditions that often lead to Silicosis. They include:
Workers in Masonry and Stone Cutting
The stone cutting areas’ environment comprises large volumes of dust as the machines or human labor lay stones or cut them to the desired shape. Since most stones include silica in the compound elements, exposure is higher, meaning that the risk of contracting Silicosis is also increased.
Employees in Glass Manufacturing Industries
Moreover, the glass comes from the combination of different compounds, including silicates. The compounding of all the elements, including silica, will lead to rising dust and inhalation of large percentages of the mineral, to your detriment.
Employees in Quarries or Mines
The mining or quarrying process also involves digging up different minerals, leading to rising dust and exposure to large silica volumes. Additionally, most conditions in mines are unregulated as they are in the open fields.
Subsequently, if employees do not have appropriate clothing and protective gear, they may carry the silica mineral on their clothes and inhale a significant percentage while at work.
The case also applies to workers in tunnel projects, whereby you may have to dig up a new tunnel or replace worn out channels. The digging and explosive work methods create massive dust clouds that may be filled with silica, depending on the location.
Additional employees fall within the category that should receive extra protection to reduce the risk of Silicosis. They include:
- Employees in ceramic industries
- Workers responsible for sandblasting
- Employees in the steel manufacturing industry
Expected Safety Measures for Employees Exposed to Silica
With the heightened exposure to silica at your workplace, your employer is responsible for providing all necessary safety precautions. In doing so, he/she will reduce the cases of reported Silicosis in the work environment by protecting you and other workers from the condition. Your employer should ensure that your worksite has:
Working Dust Control Systems
The dust accumulation in enclosed industrial parks can easily overwhelm workers, primarily where the building lacks a proper dust control system. Ideally, the plans should include suction pipes that transport the dust to safe isolation areas that do not pollute the environment.
The dust control system should also include a separate air duct to supply fresh air from outside and maintain proper air circulation. The continuous movement of dust outside the building is not only efficient, but it also reduces the risk of suffocation that would occur even if the duct did not contain silica.
Provision of Protective Clothes When Working
Wearing protective clothing is also crucial when working in areas that expose you to silica dust. Your employer should provide new overall garments that prevent the dust’s entrapment in your clothes, as you may inhale the harmful silica element after leaving the working site.
With protective clothing, you minimize the risk of inhaling dust and keep your clothes free from contamination. The protective garments should also be washable or disposable so that you will not have to re-use them and come into contact with the harmful dust. If they are re-washable, you should conduct the process with extra care to remove all dust.
On top of this, the industrial park should include shower facilities that allow you and other employees to wash off any excess dust that could pose health risks if not properly cleaned off. Changing cubicles is also ideal in circumstances where showers are unavailable, to enable employees to alter into different garments when working.
Additionally, you need work masks that filter dust from the air you inhale to avoid silica’s direct intake. Hence, filter masks should be an essential part of protective clothing, as they reduce the risk of Silicosis significantly.
Placement of Warning Signs When Approaching Areas With High Silica Deposits
Employees also need to know when approaching high-risk areas, mostly if they work in vast open spaces like quarries, where mineral distribution is uneven. This way, they will understand which regions require them to work with extra precaution to avoid inhalation of highly concentrated silica dust.
Installation of Respirators and Air Conditioning
Like dust control systems, respirators also serve a significant purpose in industrial parks prone to silica dust. However, a respirator protects the employee by covering the mouth and nose and filtering the inhaled air.
With an efficient and airtight respirator, you can ward off Silicosis because the filters will block any mineral elements from reaching your lungs. In return, you will have to wear a respirator for prolonged periods, which may become uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the safety feature serves an essential purpose and should, therefore, be a priority.
While all these requirements are the bare minimum for any industrial employer to provide the employees, most employers do not understate the correct administrative processes to avail safety features. As a result, many employees experience different symptoms of Silicosis.
Moreover, most employees fail to realize that the symptoms are common in Silicosis until it is too late. Consequently, the class action lawsuit may come too late for most aggrieved parties, leaving their survivors to seek redress for their losses.
Symptoms of Silicosis
When you learn about the different symptoms associated with Scoliosis, you become more aware of the warning signs to look out for to promote timely treatment.
Moreover, the definite symptoms will be part of the evidential sources present in court when seeking compensation for various medical expenses. It is important to remember that symptoms vary depending on several circumstances, including your general immunity and duration of exposure to silica dust.
Nevertheless, the condition’s general characteristics will include fibrous scar tissues that can also develop into the lungs’ nodules. Additional signs may take up modifications based on the initial scars. For example, the ruptured tissue may fill up with fluid and reduce breathing capacity.
Hence, the analysis of Silicosis symptoms is best done in the different stages of the disease. They are:
When you face exposure to silica dust for five to ten years continuously, the condition arises as your body accumulates the dust in the lungs. Since the exposure period is relatively long, you may experience symptoms like:
Scarring of Air sacs
Silica dust has small pieces of the mineral that are often the size of dust. When the small minerals reach the air sacs that make up your lungs, they will cause scarring, as the air sacs are delicate. Initial contact may not be apparent, as the accumulation of silica takes time before causing severe scarring.
Inflammation and Possible Infections
When the effects occur, your lungs become exposed to various disease-causing microorganisms that cause infections. The bacteria often comes from getting into close contact with people living with different respiratory diseases.
Since you are likely to be unaware of the progressive lung damage, you will not have adequate protection against the bacteria. As a result, the open scars in your lungs have to ward off the dangerous microbes by filling the cells with chemical fluid. Subsequently, inflammation of the lungs occurs, leading to severe pain and difficulties in breathing.
The second type of Silicosis is more advanced, as it arises from exposure to silica dust in unregulated amounts and for longer. You are likely to suffer from acute Silicosis after working in unregulated conditions for up to ten years, as your air sacs continue to accumulate the harmful silica elements.
Mostly, acute Silicosis affects employees working in quarries, tunnel digging, and sandblasting, along with any other open-access work environment. The likelihood of contracting the disease arises from the high or unregulated amounts of silica dust you will inhale during your work life compared to other controlled areas like industrial buildings with dust control systems. Common signs of acute silicosis are:
Lung Fluid Accumulation and Inflammation
As mentioned, your lungs are sensitive organs that should ward off disease-causing microorganisms for a healthy breathing system. Consequently, the small silica dust particles that accumulate in your air sacs tear your tissue and cause severe inflammation from exposure to bacteria.
In this case, the inflammation can be more severe than in accelerated Silicosis, mainly because the volume of silica in your lungs is higher. Therefore, the result is experiencing progressive inflammation that will restrict your lung capacity and cause additional complications.
Low Oxygen Levels in the Blood
After suffering from severe lung inflammation and fluid retention, your lung capacity decreases to drastic percentages, as you will have difficulties taking deep breaths and exhaling all the carbon dioxide that the body needs to expel. Consequently, your oxygen levels will drop over time from the limited capacity to inhale and hold the gas in the air sacs.
With the lower blood oxygen levels, your body also becomes incapable of efficiently performing normal body functions, meaning that digestion will be strenuous, among other processes. Additionally, improper oxygen supply is dangerous for your energy levels, as your mitochondria cells receive less oxygen to convert absorbed food nutrients to energy.
Without the required energy supply, different parts of the alimentary canal like the stomach cannot complete digestion efficiently, leading to a significant reduction of absorbed food into the bloodstream. As a result, you may feel weaker and unable to continue working, on top of experiencing recurrent headaches and dizziness.
All the symptoms will also eventually cause drastic weight loss, as you will not receive the required nutrients to sustain a healthy weight. Moreover, weight loss may occur because of the improper hormonal balance resulting from the insufficient oxygen supply.
Fevers and Coughs
Your body’s autoimmune responses trigger different operations as the affected area attempts to eradicate the problem. For example, you may experience a cough as the lungs try to expel the accumulated fluid or silica dust to promote full lung capacity.
However, although the responses your body gives off are to uphold proper health, the cough may worsen the situation, as your air sacs and windpipe could become severely scarred as the small specs move up the breathing system. Therefore, consulting with a doctor is necessary to help manage the persistent cough and prevent further scarring of delicate lung tissue.
Moreover, fever is common after a lung inflammation, as your body attempts to kill off disease-causing microbes. Ideally, the increase in body temperatures should be extreme enough to kill the bacteria for health restoration. However, high fever temperatures may become detrimental to your body as well, as your cells are only conditioned to withstand specific temperatures.
Lastly, you are prone to experiencing chronic Silicosis, a condition that affects employees exposed to silica for ten to thirty years. While chronic Silicosis effects are similar to the other types, you may face more adverse symptoms as the dust accumulates on the upper side of the lungs. The position of gathering dust is potentially more dangerous than other types of Silicosis, depending on diagnosis and period of exposure.
Despite this, some patients may experience the less extreme version of the condition, with some asymptomatic reporting cases. However, the doctor should establish the severity of your situation by administering a chest radiography exam that displays the position of silica material in the lungs. With proper imaging, the doctor will then determine the next step and prepare you for treatment.
If you receive a diagnosis for advanced chronic Silicosis, you are prone to experiencing the following symptoms:
Severe Scarring of the Lungs
Since the duration of exposure to the harmful dust is longer, in this case, you will have more accumulated contaminants in the lungs. Consequently, the scarring level will increase as the small crystals move every time your air sac fills and empties air. Additionally, most patients suffering from chronic Silicosis report feeling excruciating pain when taking a breath, as the particles tear the tissue on the air sacs.
Difficulty in Breathing
The accumulation of lung fluid, inflammation, and extensive scarring also reduce lung capacity, meaning that you will take in less air than used. While breathing difficulties can be alarming, you will receive manageable healthcare solutions like oxygen supply and breathing machines, especially in adverse cases.
Although you receive the additional medical support, you may battle with the subsequent effects of limited oxygen supply, including weight loss and general feelings of weakness.
Filing a Class Action Lawsuit for Contracting Silicosis
A class-action lawsuit involves many different parties who have faced adverse outcomes from a specific product or set of circumstances. In this case, your class action lawsuit will involve additional employees who have worked in unsafe environments that exposed them to silicosis, based on the lack of protective clothing and work policies.
Additionally, you may join a class-action lawsuit for the defective machinery and other products meant to protect you from the silica dust while working. For example, suppose the respirators you wore in hazardous areas did not provide total air filtration. In that case, your product defect claim will be acceptable, provided you join a valid class action lawsuit.
Usually, two main areas in tort form the reference point for compensatory claims for afflicted parties. The first tort to submit is negligence, whereby you will hold your employer or supervisor in authority responsible for the poor working conditions and policies that exposed you to Silicosis.
If you decide to sue under negligence, you should prove all elements of the tort, as the law requires. Your attorney is instrumental in helping you make adequate preparations for the case, provided you give all details that may be relevant during the proceedings.
Alternatively, you may sue under product liability for the defective machinery or protective clothing that allowed contact with the dangerous silica dust. Since the tort includes strict liability, you may have a lower burden of proof to show that the manufacturers knowingly produced substandard products. However, you must prove damages and show that they relate to the class action lawsuit’s product defects.
Compensatory Claims to Include in Your Lawsuit
You need to determine the types of claims you will include in the legal submissions your lawyer presents during the trial, as they contain your grievances and total damages in monetary figures. However, you must support each claim with persuasive evidence that leaves little doubt or probability of alternative causes of your harm.
Moreover, your attorney can liaise with a professional financial officer who will give credible monetary estimates for each claim in your case. For example, suppose your matter involves a wrongful death suit for the death of a loved one who suffered from chronic Silicosis. In that case, the financial officer can make reasonable estimates of the deceased’s projected earning capacity. This way, your claims are more acceptable before the judge for increased chances of success.
Some claims to include are:
- Compensation for medical expenses
- Loss of wages and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death of a loved one
Find a Class Action Lawsuit Expert Near Me
When you have to watch yours or your loved one’s health deteriorate from Silicosis, you will experience multiple challenges ranging from emotional to financial distress. Additionally, the disease’s consequences are often irreversible, yet the relevant parties can take steps towards protecting workers from silica dust exposure. As a result, you must seek rightful compensation for the harm you experience after prolonged exposure to silica, leading to severe Silicosis. Additionally, it is essential to remember that the condition increases the chances of additional conditions like lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and rheumatoid arthritis in your body. Eventually, you may have to cater to the accumulating medical responsibilities that create many expenses.
Hence, you need to seek compensation for the harm caused by joining a class-action lawsuit against your employer or manufacturing companies that provided defective protective items. With the help of Consumer Alert Now, you will learn of the different legal expectations set out for each plaintiff, along with the standard of proof to present. Our services are available throughout the country to promote reliability and efficiency in service delivery. To get in touch, call us today at 800-511-0747.