Workplace exposure to toxins and chemicals is extremely dangerous for workers. Exposure to hazardous items on-the-job could result in a worker getting very sick, sometimes with terminal illnesses. A worker who gets sick should pursue a workers’ compensation claim, but these claims can sometimes be a challenge since the illness may not develop for years or even decades after the initial exposure to the toxin has occurred. An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can provide help in showing the link between job tasks and illnesses so workers can get benefits.
Of course, it is far better to prevent the exposure which causes illness in the first place. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has standards in place to limit exposure to hazardous items. Unfortunately, the list of hazardous items OSHA limits exposure to is too short and, in many cases, the standards are outdated. OSHA is taking steps to try to better regulate exposure to toxic substances. One recent new regulation aimed at protecting employees from exposure to silica could make a substantial difference in preventing illness.
New OSHA Standard Can Help Prevent Atlanta Workplace Illnesses
Safety News Alert reports the new standard is: “one of the most significant safety regulation changes in years.” The standard makes several big changes aimed at preventing silicosis and other serious conditions related to silica exposure. Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in many different materials, including granite and soil. Workers on construction sites are commonly exposed, but silica is present in so many things that employees across many industries are at risk.
New standards will limit permissible exposure levels for silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meters of exposure averaged out over an eight hour shift. Employers in the construction industry must come into compliance with the new standard by June of 2017, and employers in other industries including the maritime industry must come into compliance with the new standard by June of 2018. Employers in hydraulic fracturing are also given more time to establish dust controls to meet permissible exposure limits.
In addition to dropping the exposure limit, the standard also requires the use of engineering controls to limit exposure, tightly controlled access to areas with high exposure levels, as well as medical exams to be paid for by workers who are subject to higher levels of exposure.
OSHA expects the new silica exposure limits could save 600 people’s lives each year and could prevent at least 900 people from getting silicosis. Employers and employees need to be aware of these new rules and employers should move quickly to come into compliance and begin protecting workers. Unfortunately, people will continue to be exposed until the new changes go into effect and, even with the new changes, some people may still develop silica related illnesses. Those who get sick need to talk with a lawyer to understand their right in regards to workers’ comp benefits.
The Atlanta workplace accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent employees or their families after a workplace injury or death. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.