April 21, 2016

Early detection saves lives: How to #StopSilicosis

Dr. Robert Harrison, U.S. Department of Labor Blog

When I learned about the dangers of silica dust in medical school in the 1970s, at the beginning of my career in occupational medicine, I thought silica dust was only of historical interest, or a hazard for just a few especially vulnerable workers with unscrupulous employers. Unfortunately, after treating many workers with occupational lung diseases for the past 30 years, I have learned that the hazards of yesterday are still the hazards of today – but they are entirely preventable going forward if employers comply with the straightforward standards OSHA has now established to protect workers’ health.

Silica dust ranks with asbestos and coal as one of the most damaging lung particles that workers can breathe on the job, but it is also entirely possible to prevent exposure to it. Tiny bits of silica dust can lodge themselves deep in the lungs and cause permanent scarring − sometimes very rapidly, but usually over many years. Silica dust is also a known lung carcinogen, and can damage the immune system and the kidneys. ... more

Posted In: DOL

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