Respirators often serve as a critical lifeline for workers who are employed in dangerous industries. These small but vital pieces of equipment are integral in filtering contaminants out of the air being breathed by workers. Respirators run the range from simple to the complex, with some mechanical air scrubbers capable of detecting the minutest particulate matter. Further, different types of contaminants require higher levels of filtration, and defective respirators can truly be a life-or-death matter.
Tragically, however, many respirators fail to meet the safety standards designed to protect worker health. Defective respirators can result in injuries to workers that may not even manifest until many years after initial exposure. These late-development diseases mean that immediate correction of the defective gear in question proves impossible.
These dangerous if not deadly diseases include:
- Silcosis; and
- Black lung disease (Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis)
Several dangerous industries depend upon respirators to protect their workers. Coal working is one of the most well-known of these industries, with workers providing a vital service to our nation. Many individuals depend upon coal working to provide electricity and heat. Unfortunately, though, coal working comes with a high risk to these important workers. Not only do workers face the risk of mine collapses and explosions, but they also face the risks associated with defective respirators. This can lead to the development of silicosis or black lung disease. Also known as Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis, black lung disease leads to significant lung damage to workers who inhale coal dust. Scar tissue results in the lungs, making it even more difficult for the workers’ bodies to process the oxygen they breathe.
Asbestos is another serious health hazard for American workers, and is a naturally occurring fibrous material that can be found throughout our nation. Companies and individuals used this product for hundreds of years as a building and insulation material due to its durable and fire-resistant properties. The tragic truth of the matter is that this material also causes devastating lung conditions, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, which can often prove fatal. Asbestos respirators are just as prone to defects as others, and sometimes more so due to the small size of delicate asbestos particles. In fact, over 84,000 lawsuits have been filed against one respirator manufacturer—3M Co.—related to the failure of its respirators to filter out those small but deadly particles.
Silica is another hazardous particulate, generally occurring as a fine dust during various process, such as construction, mining, and rock quarrying. This dust represents microscopic rock pieces that can be inhaled by those who are around it for a length of time. Extended or repeated bouts of exposure will typically cause silicosis, which is a deadly lung disease causing scar tissue and making it hard or impossible for victims to breathe.
Those who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to defective respirators have certain rights under the law. They may be able to seek civil compensation in a court of law by the filing of a personal injury or defective product lawsuit. An experienced toxic tort lawyer can help advise them on their legal rights. Victims sometimes feel like they are all alone, or may find themselves overwhelmed at the prospect of seeking financial restitution, but law firms like ours are experienced in pursuing this type of civil action and can help them enforce their legal rights.
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Source: “Defective Respirators Lawyer” document provided by The Dysart Law Firm, p.c.