Silicosis Lawyers

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Silicosis Lawyers

The lawyers of THOMAS & WAN have the resources and expertise to fight for you in your claim against a negligent hospital, nurse, doctor, pharmacist or medical technician.

With the rise of artificial stone, a material commonly used in the making of bathroom and kitchen countertops, there has also been a spike of lung related deaths and illnesses. Some of the people that work with this “stone” have ended up being diagnosed with irreversible lung complications. This artificial stone is also referred to as ‘engineering stone’ that consists of silica, a chemical inhaled in dangerous amounts by these workers bringing about lung damages. 

Victims get a lung disease known as silicosis, and it occurs when workers continue inhaling this fine silica dust that’s found in the air, on the floor, and almost everywhere. A recent study carried out in Australia established that at least 12% of kitchen countertop workers who cut, grind or polish engineered stone had silicosis. Such cases are now becoming common in the United States, an aspect that’s beginning to worry many health workers in the country. In the US, a majority of kitchen countertop workers who grind, cut or get to polish this engineered stone and suffer from lung complications are mainly Hispanics in their 30’s. 

Jose Martinez, a 37-year-old kitchen countertop worker, worked for many years as both a cutter and a polisher for a firm that engaged in the business of selling engineered stone. Martinez stated that dust released from cutting this stone to the desired shape was everywhere. From the bathroom to his clothes and body, silica dust was everywhere. Years after quitting, he says that he tends to feel dizzy and weak at times and suffer constant chest pains. Martinez says that he is scared, especially after being diagnosed with silicosis. Two of his colleagues died last year, and this situation makes Martinez a worried person. 

Martinez is not alone. There are plenty of cases of people diagnosed with silicosis in other places such as Washington, California, Texas, and Colorado. Much worse, two deaths among individuals who used engineering stone took place.

About a decade ago, engineered stone transformed to become a popular option to make kitchen countertops. Right now, it is one of the most popular choices for millions of people. Based on statistics, from 2010 to last year in 2018, imports of this type of stone increased to about 800% in the United States alone. Manufacturers of this stone argue that a lot of people favor this material as opposed to natural stone since it’s not easy to get cracks or stain. 

Even though all the silica -90% silica- isn’t a big issue as such to homeowners once they have been installed in their kitchens, it is, however, a big problem for those who cut them. Workers working with this type of stone expose themselves to significant levels of silica, a compound known to cause silicosis. Sadly, despite the rise of such illnesses, many workers using engineering stone continue to be diagnosed with lung complications. 

It was in 2016 when OSHA a government agency responsible for ensuring that safety conditions for U.S. workers issued several regulations issued a directive requiring the levels of silicone dust to be reduced by half. Currently, Industry trade organizations, A.St.A. World-wide, and OSHA are working round the clock to educate fabricators regarding practices and safe conditions that need an urgent implementation to protect millions of kitchen countertop workers. 

There are more than 8000 stone fabrication business entities in the United States alone that employs hundreds of thousands of workers. With the enforcement of the right procedures and safety standards, cases of lung diseases and fatalities could reduce. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel with reports of safe practices beginning to be implemented aimed at protecting workers. For instance, David Scott, an operator and owner of Slabworks of Montana, located in Bozeman, is one fellow who clearly understands the dangers of silica. For the last five years, he has managed to do a lot to reduce silica around his shop. 

Scott achieves his initiatives by using a scrubber the moment he opens his shop in the morning. Regardless of whether some scrubbing or vacuuming was done their previous day at the close of business, Scott understands that there is a film of dust that remains. For additional safety, Scott also employs the use of air handling systems for dust removal, a move that has seen him reducing silica levels in his shop to impressive levels. 

According to Scott, customers who want to purchase engineering stone for use in their kitchens need to ensure that they are buying from a reputable vendor. They can achieve this by doing a little research to ensure that such vendors are accredited by prominent firms such as the Natural Stone Institute. The Natural Stone Institute trains organizations on how to cut and polish this stone in the right manner. Consumers also need to purchase their engineering stones from firms that partner with OSHA, a safety agency known for high standards of inspection. 

Despite OSHA working tirelessly to ensure that workers are protected from silica dust, the firm still faces several notable challenges. For instance, its new workplace regulations regarding silica were heavily opposed, especially by the Trump administration. Less than one and a half years after OSHA issued a national program meant for silica, the Trump administration unceremoniously ended it. This program would have gone a long way towards ensuring that safety rules and procedures are followed by manufacturers and workers using engineering stone. 

Cases of lung silicosis resulting from the use of engineering stone are on the rise globally. Apart from the United States, countries such as Australia now witness a spike of such cases. Now more than ever, countries need to begin taking practical initiatives aimed at ensuring that such cases take a few steps backwards. The danger associated with silicon dust is real, and if nothing is done, countries will continue to grapple with enormous costs of healthcare with a majority of families standing to lose their breadwinners. Manufacturers and governments need to do more if they intend to reverse cases of lung complications and fatalities associated with the use of engineering stone for long.  

It is a complex area that requires lawyers who know the changing Texas laws regarding the negligence of a physician, registered nurse, dentist, podiatrist, pharmacist, hospital or nursing home. We have extensive experience in the specialty of hospital and doctor medical malpractice. Make sure the attorney you hire has experience in this complex area of law—Thomas & Wan has over 30 years pursuing justice for victims of medical malpractice. Contact us today if you have been a victim of medical negligence.