Silicosis Deaths a Cause for Concern in the Workplace

Source: Dmitry Kalinovsky - 123RF

New national data reveal that silicosis continues to cause or contribute to the deaths of about 100 Americans each year. Deaths occurring in those under 45 years of age raise concerns about higher exposures to silica. At least 1.7 million U.S. workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in a variety of industries and occupations, including construction, sandblasting, and mining.

Silicosis is a potentially fatal but preventable occupational lung disease caused by inhaling respirable particles containing crystalline silicon dioxide (silica).

While silicosis mortality in the U.S. has declined over time, the continuing occurrence of silicosis deaths in young adults and reports of new occupations and tasks that place workers at risk for silicosis, underscore the need for strengthening efforts to limit workplace exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Effective silicosis prevention strategies for employers are available from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Instituted for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).