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How to protect workers from silica dust

Each year, over 7,300 construction workers in the United States are impacted by a condition called silicosis. Those who work in Louisiana or elsewhere in the country may be interested to know that there is little awareness of the condition among the general public. Workers develop symptoms by inhaling silica dust, and inhaling the dust may also lead to other respiratory issues such as bronchitis.

The level of silica in a given material varies from as little as 25 percent in concrete to as much as 90 percent in sandstone. The dust is created when these materials, as well as others such as granite or brick, are cut or sanded. One option to mitigate issues caused by silica dust is to have a quality dust collection system. This may prevent dust from getting into the air, and a system should be implemented even if workers don't necessarily see dust particles.

Ideally, a dust collection system will have HEPA filters with a high minimum level of efficiency. Furthermore, the bag used to collect the dust should not be unsealed while being changed as that may allow dust to get into the air despite other precautions being taken. Employers may want to look into continuous bags that can be cut from a range vacuum without being unsealed.

Exposure to dust could cause serious injuries that may force a worker to miss work or stop working altogether. Those who are hurt on the job may benefit from applying for workers' compensation benefits. Anyone who has questions about their claim or feels as if the process isn't progressing in a timely manner may want to consult an attorney.

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