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Silicosis: Will workers' compensation benefits be hard to get?

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health implemented the new Respirable Crystalline Standard for Construction this month which will require employers to take specific steps to protect workers against occupational illnesses such as silicosis and other lung diseases. But what are the symptoms of silicosis? When it comes to workers' compensation benefits claims, how difficult will it be to prove that silicosis resulted from on-the-job exposure years earlier?

In many cases, silicosis develops years after the person was exposed to silica dust, and some victims only realize the problem when it is too late to prevent it. Experiencing shortness of breath which worsens with physical exertion could be an indicator along with persistent, severe coughing, chest pains and a bluish tinge to the skin with dark spots developing in the person's nail beds. Rapid breathing and fever are also symptoms, as are the lack of appetite and weight loss. As the disease takes hold, it will continue to limit lung functionality, eventually leaving the worker reliant on oxygen-supplying support.

So far, silicosis in incurable; however, it is entirely preventable. Employers must ensure the implementation of protection to limit exposure, and compliance by workers must be enforced. Furthermore, employees must be fully informed of the risks, and avoid carrying silica dust home on their work clothes.

Any occupational illness that develops over time could present problems when it comes to seeking financial assistance from the California workers' compensation insurance program. Fortunately, this is not a battle any silicosis sufferer has to fight alone. Help is available from an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can navigate all the administrative and legal work to obtain the maximum benefits, even if rejected claims need to be appealed.

Source: safetyservicescompany.com, "The Damaging Effects of Silica Dust", J Ruzan, Accessed on Sept. 28, 2017

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