One of the workplace hazards construction workers in Georgia may experience is exposure to silica. In an effort to protect the workers from the dangers of breathable silica, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is enforcing its rule on breathable silica dust.

Individuals who inhale silica dust are at risk of developing scarred lung tissue and, in some cases, lung disease silicosis, a condition that can make it very difficult to breath; there are many cases in which lung disease silicosis can even be fatal. The OSHA rule regarding breathable silica, which was released in March 2016, reduced the permissible exposure level to the substance to 80 percent.

The compliance requirements became effective on September 23, 2017, and enforcement has been gradually increasing. As of April 17, 2018, OSHA and the states that employ the rule have reported 116 alleged silica violations at companies in the United States. It is expected that the number of violations in the first six months of enforcing the rule will rise, as it can take six months for OSHA to issue citations after conducting inspections.

Disseminating information about compliance to the rule has been a priority. It has been particularly important that small subcontractors receive the information. General contractors are tasked with ensuring that subcontractors are in compliance with the rule. If OSHA identifies issues with silica at a worksite, the general contractors who were responsible for silica protections can be held liable and receive citations.

A personal injury attorney may advise clients who have been injured due to inadequate workplace safety about what steps should be taken to obtain the workers’ compensation to which they may be entitled. The attorney may assist with appealing denied claims or inadequate benefits and may determine if the factors surrounding the work accident may warrant a third-party liability lawsuit.