What is Black Lung and Silicosis?
Black Lung and Silicosis are disabling and often fatal incurable lung diseases that are caused by inhalation of dust particles. Exposure to dangerous dust and the health problems that arise from it are common for those in professions such as mining and rock drilling, including underground and surface coal mining, sand blasting, quarry workers and tunnel and highway construction workers. Also, crystalline silica is found in soil, sand, granite and most other types of rock and is used as an abrasive blasting agent.
Silicosis affects tens of millions of people and kills thousands every year, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO states that “with the potential to cause progressive and permanent physical disability, silicosis continues to be one of the most important occupational health illnesses in the world.”
The real issue is that this disease can be prevented. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “it is 100 percent preventable if employers, workers, and health professionals work together to reduce exposure.”
As a worker, you probably wore a respiratory mask and your employer probably recommended and required you to wear in certain areas. Disturbing news was shared in 2004 according to the U.S. News & World Report that a respiratory mask that revolutionized American industry in the 1970s has become a public health calamity. Only in recent years have experts, patients and doctors realized the full dimensions of the 3M mask, which was pulled from the market in 1998 when tougher regulations and standards took effect. The throwaway mask was marketed to successfully protect users from harmful dust and silica.
The human respiratory system is very good at filtering larger particles; however, smaller particles measuring only minute fractions of the width of a hair can get into passage ways and lodge in the lungs. These particulates become encased in the lungs and cause the victims to suffocate. The throwaway mask was cheap, lightweight and meant to be thrown away after each use. These masks were a hit with employers and a huge source of revenue for 3M. They sold hundreds of millions of these masks while workers placed their safety and health into these masks. According to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector, William Gribble, “The employee is lulled into a false sense of security … many times, I have examined these respirators during and after employees have worn [them], to find nearly as much visible contaminant inside the mask as on the surface outside”.
A four-month study revealed that the throwaway masks did not safely protect users from silica dust and the lasting effects are difficult to determine because some individuals do not develop symptoms of lung disease for many years. In West Virginia, state officials are suing 3M to help share the costs of the workers’ compensation for over 20,000 miners. The state compensation fund has already reached hundreds of millions of dollars. However, individuals that develop silicosis are not limited to a workers’ compensation alone. In West Virginia and other states, individuals can pursue personal injury claims directly against mask manufacturers.
Since the 1970s, employers endorsed various masks or respirators based on the fact that the masks had passed various safety regulations. Just as when you buy a soda at the grocery store, you assume that it does not contain arsenic or other poisons because it has met regulations. Your employers recommended, purchased and/or required you to use the mask thinking they were in compliance and keeping their workers safe.
If you have developed or are suffering from silicosis, black lung, or cancer, you may be entitled for damages for your injuries and losses. As well, your case may have little to do with your employer who complied with safety regulations. You may have what is called a product liability case against the respiratory mask manufacturer. Manufacturers are required to produce products that meet safety regulations. In fact, manufacturers are held accountable for the studies they conduct to ensure safety of the products they produce. If a manufacturer has produced, marketed and sold a product that endangers individuals’ safety, then they are liable. The St. Louis serious injury attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact our St. Louis Silicosis Lawyers
Call the silicosis attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm today at (314) 276-1681 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation and claim review. At The Cagle Law Firm, you case is safe with us.
The skilled personal injury lawyers at The Cagle Law Firm assist individuals suffering from silicosis in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois and across the country. Regardless of the state in which you live, The Cagle Law Firm may be able to assist you.
Effects of Silicosis and Prevention
The effects of silicosis include breathing difficulties, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders; greater risk of tuberculosis, scleroderma (a disease affecting skin, blood vessels, joints and skeletal muscles); lung cancer, renal disease and more. These diseases can be fatal.
Individuals working around silica and coal miners are especially susceptible to silicosis because of the sources of exposure, which include:
- Sandblasting for surface preparation
- Crushing and drilling rock and concrete
- Masonry and concrete work (building and road construction and repair)
- Mining and tunneling
- Demolition work
- Cement and asphalt pavement manufacturing
Silicosis can be prevented. In 1996, OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the American Lung Association embarked on a silicosis prevention educational campaign, “If It’s Silica, It’s Not Just Dust,” aiming to stop the overexposure to silica dust.
Even if your employer followed preventative measures, the respiratory protection you wore may or may not have been defective. Often, your employer followed safety regulations; however, the respiratory product provided may still not have been safe. Obviously, your employer is not in the business of determining if the respiratory protection was safe. Instead, your employer relied upon the manufacturing warranties that they were safe.
Get Help from Experienced Silicosis Attorneys
The skilled personal injury lawyers at The Cagle Law Firm assist individuals harmed by non-crystalline silica through Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois and across the United States. Find out how we can help you.
Call our St. Louis silicosis attorneys today at (314) 276-1681 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation and claim review.