Dangers of Fracking: Workplace Exposure to Silica

Our firm represents clients seeking Worker compensation benefits when they are injured or made ill on the job. Toxic exposure is a common form of injury on the American worksite. Unfortunately, new methods of utilizing untapped energy resources can endanger improperly protected workers.

In the recent Florida legislative session, lawmakers discussed the necessity of disclosure of chemicals being injected into rock formations to release natural gas. The process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking is controversial for hazardous chemicals being forced into groundwater and dangerous contaminants becoming airborne during the fracking procedure.

A recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) illustrates the danger of inhalable particles, particularly crystalline silica in the form of dust when used in the fracking process. At 11 sites in five states tested during the study, all exceeded the allowable limit developed by the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA).

As a naturally occurring mineral, silica is common and used to make glass and concrete. According to OSHA, sand used for hydraulic fracturing is 99 percent composed of silica sand. Inhaling silica causes silicosis, a lung condition with inflammation, fibrosis and scarring of the lungs, gradually reducing lung capacity.

Common symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath, cough and weight loss. There are three types of silicosis that roughly correspond with duration and extent of exposure to silica sand:

  • Chronic silicosis
  • Accelerated silicosis
  • Acute silicosis

If your job involves mining, sand blasting, quarrying, road construction or hydraulic fracturing, follow safety procedures to save your lungs. If you develop silicosis from work done on the job in Florida, get medical attention and speak with an experienced Worker compensation attorney.

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