On 3rd September 2019, a market research report was published that projects that the fumed silica global market will reach a worth of $166million by 2023. Fumed silica is widely utilised across various industries in adhesives, sealants, personal care products, foods, beverages, paints and coatings. In the foods and beverages industry, it serves as an effective anti-caking and thickening agent. However, the dust from natural substance silica is already known to have had a horrible impact on the health of worker in the construction industry. Therefore, this news is concerning when paired with the amount of silica dust claims that have been made in recent times.
How does Silica Dust impact workers?
Members of the construction industry are at a higher risk of inhaling silica dust and ultimately of developing an industrial disease such as Silicosis or Bronchitis. Silica dust is the dust from a natural substance which is found in rocks, sand and clay. Certain natural materials such as sandstone contain over 70 percent silica whereas some like granite have a much lower concentration, at around 30 percent. Silica can be found in housing bricks, tiles, concrete and mortar. If you are working with this kind of dust on a regular basis, exposure can cause serious health problems. Heavy and prolonged exposure to silica dust can lead to the development of lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases. 4, 000 industry deaths per year in the UK are attributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) such as bronchitis and emphysema. Mortality rates for these industrial diseases have been steadily rising. Unfortunately, with a lot of these diseases, by the time the full extent of the damage is realised, it is too late to be able to do anything about it.
How does Silica Dust form?
If you are cutting, drilling, grinding or polishing any material that contains silica then it will most likely cause clouds of excess dust to form. This fine dust is called Respirable Crystalline Silica. The more powerful the tool that is used in the task such as cutting or grinding, the higher the risk of inhaling large amounts of dangerous dust. Tools like cut-off saws have the potential to produce a lot of dust in a short amount of time. Other things to consider are:
- The work area – the more enclosed the workspace is, the more that unsafe levels of dangerous dust will build up
- The amount of time that is spent working. The longer that the task takes then the more dust there will be
- The frequency with which you have to work in the dusty environment. If you are having to work with silica dust on a regular basis, then your chances of inhaling it will clearly be greater.
In the European Union, one in five workers face an occupational cancer risk – something that is shocking when we consider how it can be easily prevented. Silica dust has been classified as carcinogenic to humans since 1996, yet silica dust claims against companies that have been negligent in their protection of workers are still happening.
Like with asbestos compensation claims, specialist industrial disease solicitors will be able to help you claim compensation for silica dust related illness.
If you think that you may have been exposed to silica dust and are experiencing the unpleasant side effects, contacting an industrial disease claim solicitor is the best course of action to find out if you can make a claim.