WARNING: Oil and Gas Workers May Be at Risk to Silica Exposure at Fracking Sites

A recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded that "an inhalation health hazard existed for workers exposed to crystalline silica at...hydraulic fracturing sites." Crystalline silica is considered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as an air contaminant and may affect the respiratory function of exposed workers. Effective work practices and engineering controls, including air monitoring, dust masks, and designed ventilation are necessary to protect workers.

Exposure to silica dust may result in a chronic lung injury called silicosis, which is a fibrous scarring of the lungs. Disabling pulmonary fibrosis can be progressive and may lead to death. Silica exposure can also cause scleroderma and/or kidney disease. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies silica as a Class I carcinogenic, which means it may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen.

Exposed workers may exhibit signs and symptoms of shortness of breath, reduced pulmonary function, coughing, wheezing, and chest illnesses. Smoking will aggravate the effects of exposure.

The work injury lawyers at the Fitzsimmons Law Firm have been representing workers injured on the job throughout West Virginia for over 30 years. If you or a family member have been exposed to silica dust or other any other harmful toxic or chemical substance, contact one of the West Virginia Chemical Exposure lawyers at the Fitzsimmons Law Firm immediately to discuss what legal rights may be available to you.


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