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OSHA increases enforcement of silica rule

In 2013, OSHA implemented a new crystalline silica standard for construction companies in New York and throughout the country. In January 2018, OSHA adjusted the fines that these companies must pay for violating that rule. They will be fined $12,934 per violation in addition to the same amount per day if changes are not made. Those that are deemed to be repeat violators could face fines of up to $129,336.

Crystalline silica is dust that gets put into the air when cutting or drilling concrete or when fracking. To prevent dust from getting into the air, concrete must generally only be cut when wet. Alternatively, workers must be given sealed respiratory masks. Exposure to this substance could create health issues such as lung cancer or kidney disease. It may also result in individuals having a hard time breathing or not being able to breathe at all.

On average, 14 construction workers in the U.S. died each day in 2016 according to OSHA data. Some companies have already invested in manager and contractor training to help keep everyone aware of the new rule. The rationale is that keeping workers safe should be made a top priority. In addition, avoiding fines resulting from rule violations may keep companies motivated to enforce safety protocol.

Those who have developed health issues related to dust exposure may wish to file for workers compensation benefits. Doing so may make it possible to have medical bills related to those issues paid in full. It may also be possible for a worker to obtain a portion of his or her salary while out of work. In some cases, workers might obtain benefits on a permanent basis. An attorney may be helpful to those trying to navigate the workers compensation application or appeal process.

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