Workers in the construction industry face a variety of risks that put their health and even lives in jeopardy on a daily basis. One of the biggest dangers that many of them may not even realize they face stems from silicosis from drywall finishing. Drywall dust contains respirable particles of crystalline silica, which is often generated in certain construction activities such as sanding or drywall finishing. Long-term exposure to tiny, often invisible particles of silica can result in a serious disease called silicosis.
Silicosis and Drywall Dust
Silicosis is a serious lung disease which can result in long-term health effects and, in the worst cases, even death. Employers owe a duty to their workers to reduce the risks posed by silica as much as possible. One easy method employers can take to reduce the risk of silicosis is to use drywall joint compounds that do not contain silica. Silica-free joint compounds may not completely erase health risks, because workers can be in danger of health complications when performing work around dusty projects even if that dust does not contain silica particles; but it can certainly reduce if not entirely eliminate the risk of developing silicosis.
Regardless of whether a joint compound contains silica, OSHA recommends that construction workers employ methods to control drywall dust and other respirable crystalline silica on the job site. The two most common methods used for drywall dust control involve either wet sponging or vacuum dust collection systems. One study suggested that using a wet sponge sanding method reduced the number of respirable dust particles that were generated by as much as 60 percent when compared to a block sander. Vacuum dust collection systems are also known to greatly reduce the levels of dust exposures posed to construction workers, often lowering total exposure levels anywhere from 80 to 97 percent, based upon the specific system being used.
Unfortunately, you or a loved one may still suffer personal injury due to silicosis and drywall finishing even if the appropriate measures are taken. In situations where those steps are not taken, the danger is even greater. The law provides certain measures for injured parties to pursue financial restitution in cases where they suffer damages due to no fault of their own. Consulting with an experienced toxic tort attorney can help these parties learn more about their legal rights as they seek financial relief in a court of law.