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Silica, also known as silicon dioxide, is a hazardous toxin causing health problems in Georgia and around the country. Silica is in dirt, rocks, and sand. Silica dust enters the air when construction company workers are cutting materials. The workers inhale the harmful dust and many suffer as a result.

Asbestos is a material which contains silica fibers that travel in the air. There were at least 27 million workers in direct contact with asbestos products between 1940 and 1980, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Construction companies used asbestos to build and repair structures. More than 200,000 workers died due to their exposure to asbestos.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a report estimating that close to 2 million workers come in contact with silica particles each year. leading to as many as 1,500 deaths each year from health complications. Some of the health problems are lung cancer, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is common for silica dust to fly while workers are cutting materials. OSHA recommends that workers use a wet cutting saw to prevent the silica dust from rising into the air. It also urges workers to use respirators while performing their jobs.

OSHA issued rules to prevent silica exposure on June 23, 2017. Under these rules, employers must decrease cleaning practices. They must provide workers with access to medical exams such as x-rays and lung tests. Employers must also offer extra services to reduce exposure to silica.

Employers are required to maintain and follow all applicable workplace safety rules and regulations in order to protect their employees. A worker who has been injured on the job or who has contracted an illness as a direct result of an employer’s failure to do might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse is available.