Following the National Healthy Lung month of October, workers in California might benefit from the awareness campaigns that were run to underscore the hazards posed by silica and asbestos. However, employers have known about the dangers and the high risks of lung cancer, but workers’ compensation claims continue to be filed by workers whose health and safety were not protected. Workers do not always realize that they can insist on personal protective equipment if they work in hazardous conditions.

Asbestos is still present in older buildings and also some car parts, posing dangers to construction workers and auto mechanics. Asbestos fibers become airborne, and inhalation allows the particles to embed themselves in the lungs, and mesothelioma, which is a deadly type of cancer, is often the outcome. Crystalline silica is present in concrete products and building sand, and any processes that involve sawing, cutting or grinding with power tools such as drills and masonry saws can set free the microscopic silica particles. Inhalation happens without workers even realizing it — until it is too late.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict regulations about permissible exposure levels, and employers are expected to monitor the air quality where exposure is possible. The safety agency also prescribes the proper personal protection equipment that employers must provide to protect workers from exposure that could cause silicosis. Sadly, many employers do not prioritize employee safety and leave workers at risk of suffering this deadly lung disease.

Victims of occupational diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and silicosis might have developed the illness gradually over many years. This complicates the pursuit of financial relief through the California workers’ compensation insurance program. An experienced attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance to secure all the benefits to which workers are entitled, regardless of the number of years that have lapsed since they worked at the facility at which they were exposed.