WC Insurers Waiting For Silica Dust to Settle

Industry on alert to keep claims in the workers comp system and out of the courts

As is so often the case in the world of occupational disease, it’s the little things that get you. Anytime workers chip, cut, crush, drill, grind, blast or sift objects that contain quartz, microscopic dust particles may be released, lodge in the lungs, and lead to the formation of scar tissue that reduces the lungs’ ability to extract oxygen from the air.

Overexposure to this respirable form of crystalline silica can cause a debilitating, incurable and sometimes fatal lung disease silicosis. Since antiquity, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people have fallen victim to silicosis and other diseases associated with overexposure to respirable crystalline silica, including tuberculosis, lung cancer, autoimmune disorders or kidney disease.

Today, there is good news for workers exposed to silica, not to mention employers and workers’ compensation insurers. The disease has not only been shown to be highly preventable, but the number of silicosis-related deaths from this ancient scourge is on the decline.

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