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Toxic Tort Attorney and Workplace Accident Lawyer reviews silica dust exposure and silicosis lawsuits for injured plaintiffs nationwide
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Workplace Silicosis Injury Lawsuits

Get compensation for your fracking or mining illness

Silica dust exposure is a serious threat to almost two million workers in the United States, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety experts have identified more than 100,000 workers in high-risk jobs, primarily in construction, fracking, mining and basic materials industries that may develop silicosis. 

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), up to two million American workers are exposed to breathable silica toxins in a variety of industries and occupations. Silica dust, when inhaled by employees at the workplace, can cause very serious health disorders and diseases, including silicosis, lung cancer, silicosis, pulmonary fibrosis, autoimmune disorders, and other adverse health outcomes.

Workers may develop silicosis by breathing very small silica particles into the lungs. Silicosis, an irreversible lung disease, is most closely associated with occupational exposure to silica dust.

Construction workers and those working in fracking operations have developed silicosis and other respiratory diseases from inhaling silica dust and exposure to other toxins at the workplace.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated workplace injury lawyer and toxic tort attorney investigating silica injury lawsuits and representing injured plaintiffs nationwide.

The Lyon Firm works with OSHA experts, construction site engineers, and vocational experts to investigate and determine whether poor management, safety violations, worker negligence or defective equipment caused an injury.

Fracking Contamination

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published studies that show fracking workers are likely exposed to high levels of silica in the dust surrounding work sites, which may lead to permanent lung damage, silicosis and lung cancer.

The fracking process endangers workers when sand is delivered and loaded into sand movers, transferred by conveyor belts and blended with other fracking fluids prior to injection. Transporting and moving silica sand by movers and transfer belts can release dusts containing silica into the air and exposing workers if they breathe the dust into their lungs.

When oil and gas companies operate in America and the nearby environment ends up contaminated and damaged, surrounding land and home owners can expect to see their property values drop significantly.

Large energy corporations, with hundreds of hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) sites, are responsible for thousands of environmental infractions each year, causing millions of dollars in damages to properties nationwide.

According to a study by the Wall Street Journal, there are over one million active oil and gas wells in the United States, and more than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of many of them.

Toxic chemical leaks, oil spills, groundwater contamination, soil contamination, unsightly drilling equipment and noise pollution due to fracking activity account for the majority of property value loss claims.

Realtors around the country note that buyers are very hesitant to purchase homes near fracking sites. However, oil and gas companies are not taking responsibility for damages to property unless lawsuits are filed against them.

It is unfortunate that legal action is necessary, but not surprising given that the large energy corporations responsible are placing profit before environmental concerns. Any property owner with real estate negatively affected by fracking activities may have a claim against regional businesses.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated fracking contamination lawyer, representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims against large corporations.  

NIOSH has identified the primary sources of silica dust exposure during fracking operations:

  • Dust ejected from access ports on top of the sand movers during refilling operations while the machines are running
  • Dust ejected through open side fill ports on the sand movers
  • Dust generated by on-site vehicle traffic
  • Dust released from the transfer belt
  • Dust created as sand drops into blender hoppers
  • Dust released between the sand mover and the blender
  • Dust released from top of the end of a sand transfer belt


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Fracking Chemical Exposure

  • Drillers
  • Assistant drillers
  • Floor hands
  • Pump operators
  • Pipefitters
  • Maintenance staff
  • Painters
  • Machine operators
  • Lease hands
  • Derrick hands
  • Motor hands
  • Roughnecks
  • Crane and truck drivers
  • Foremen
  • Well testers
  • Field Engineers

Silica Dust Health Hazards

Crystalline silica is a mineral common in sand, and rocks like sandstone and granite. When rocks, clay bricks, concrete, and tiles are cut and dust fills the air, and workers are not equipped with proper safety equipment, illness is likely to develop.

Silica is produced when these materials are broken or drilled. As early as 1997, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified Crystalline Silica as a human carcinogen.

Silica is classified as a human carcinogen and is the cause of silicosis, a fatal lung disease. Silica dust gets trapped in the lungs and leads to scarring. Severe scarring and the stiffening of the lung makes it difficult to breathe. Over time, lung capacity will decrease. Exposure to silica dust has been associated with the following:

Silicosis Symptoms & Treatment

Silicosis symptoms may appear a few weeks or years after initial silica dust exposure. The scarring of lungs is like to produce a persistent cough a well as other respiratory symptoms. The three types of silicosis include:

  • Chronic Silicosis—develops 10 to 30 years after exposure and affects the upper lungs. Patients may have trouble breathing, and the diseases may resemble chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic silicosis is often difficult to differentiate between simple silicosis, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Radiography is used to diagnose the condition.
  • Accelerated Silicosis—occurs after exposure to a large amount of silica in a short amount of time. Symptoms include inflammation and scarring that progress faster than in chronic silicosis.
  • Acute Silicosis—high-level and massive exposure to silica dust in unregulated environments lead to acute silicosis. The lungs may become inflamed and filled with fluid. Patients can experience severe shortness of breath, cough, fever, weight loss and low blood oxygen levels.

What is Crystalline Silica?

Crystalline silica is a natural component of soil, sand, granite, and other common minerals. Forms of crystalline silica include quartz, cristobalite and tridymite. Almost all forms of silica can be broken into particle dust, and are likely to become respirable-sized particles during workplace activities such as chipping, cutting, drilling, or grinding objects that contain crystalline silica.

There are up to 100,000 American workers in silica-related high risk jobs such as abrasive blasting, foundry work, automotive work, construction, stonecutting, rock drilling, quarry work, tunneling, glass manufacturing and fracking.

Common Silica Exposure Industries

  • Mining—coal and hard rock mining operations
  • Fracking
  • Construction
  • Tunnel building
  • Masonry
  • Sandblasting
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Ceramic production
  • Steel plants
  • Quarrying
  • Stone cutting

Symptoms of Silica-Related Disease

The most common sign of heavy silica dust exposure is problems associated with breathing. Inhaling silica dust damages the lungs, increases the risk of lung infections, and may lead to heart failure. Silica may also cause lung disease and cancer with chronic occupational exposure.

Chronic silicosis, the most common type of silicosis, occurs after 15 or more years of exposure to respirable silica. Symptoms associated with chronic silicosis may include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, or respiratory failure.

Acute silicosis occurs after a few months or a couple years following exposure to high concentrations of silica dust. Symptoms of acute silicosis include disabling shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss, and may quickly lead to death.

Preventing Silica Dust Exposure

Silicosis cannot be treated, so it is essential that employers and workers at occupational risk work to prevent any possible silica dust exposure. Employers can take the following measures to ensure the safety of employees at the workplace:

  • Maximize dry dust collection
  • Enclose dust collection areas
  • Use proper dust control equipment
  • Properly maintain dry dust collectors
  • Change collection filters according to equipment manuals
  • Maximize wet suppression (wet drilling) methods
  • Maintain and clean enclosed equipment cabs
  • Replace torn or missing cab seals
  • Keep the cab door closed when drilling
  • Change air filters frequently
  • Avoid any visible cloud of dust
  • Position drills upwind when possible
  • Use a respirator according to OSHA guidelines

Silica Dust Exposure Lawsuits

It only takes a small amount of silica dust to create a health hazard. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, inhaling silica dust can lead to a debilitating and fatal respiratory disease and numerous other health conditions and cancers. OSHA strictly enforces regulations that aim to protect workers from silica dust exposure.

Yet, more than 250 workers die from silicosis every year. Negligent employers may be held liable for injuries that are considered preventable.

The Lyon Firm works to protect workers in every industrial capacity and represents injured plaintiffs nationwide when negligent employers fail to protect employees, and fail to adhere to basic OSHA safety regulations.

photo of attorney Joe Lyon
A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are these cases important?

Toxic exposure cases help empower employees to fight for their right to be protected, satisfactorily informed, and to stay safe. They also bring awareness to challenge and higher the expectations of companies who are not serving their employees justly.


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