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Government workplace safety agencies issue joint health alert

Pennsylvania employees may be interested in a new alert from government workplace safety agencies dealing with a common health danger in home construction. Due to the potential severity of the problems and the ease of prevention, workers and their employers should be on the lookout.

In February, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a hazard alert in conjunction with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The release warns workers about the potentially serious health risks involved with the manufacture and installation of stone countertops, both artificial and natural. When making, finishing or installing these countertops, there is a danger that the workers will be exposed to an amount of crystalline silica that could pose serious illness risk to the worker.

Crystalline silica is a type of small particle found in various minerals, including granite and quartzite. Inhalation of these particles brings with it a risk of silicosis, which can cause coughing, fatigue and difficulty breathing. Exposure to these particles can also increase the worker's risk of lung disease, kidney disease and lung cancer. Simple changes related to controlling dust are recommended in order to avoid much of the danger posed by the particles. Additionally, OSHA recommends that workers who could be exposed to crystalline silica wear the appropriate respiratory protection devices and limit exposure in order to avoid workplace illness.

When a worker is exposed to dangerous working conditions that can lead to an occupational disease, such as black lung disease or carpal tunnel syndrome, an attorney may be able to help. The attorney may be able to help the employee file for workers' compensation in order to recover for disability and time spent off work in recovery, as well as further legal action against negligent employers.

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