Not all construction accidents occur in an instant. Some happen over time and can produce serious illnesses or disorders that will impact a person for the rest of their life.
Construction sites have many hazards. A lot of these are visible and obvious, but air quality issues may not be. For this reason, workers should be aware of the potential for the development of silicosis.
Silicosis is a lung disease that results from breathing in silica. It is common after exposure on construction sites. The particles of silica cause inflammation in the lung tissue. Eventually, as the inflammation recedes, it leaves behind scarring. This scar tissue impacts the ability of the lungs to expand and contract properly, which makes it difficult for the infected person to breathe.
Silica is such a big risk on construction sites because it is found in rocks and soil. The tiny particles are not apparent in the air. People may even just mistake them as harmless dust. Annually, two million workers within the construction industry have exposure to this substance.
After exposure to silica, it can take up to 30 years for a person to see symptoms of silicosis. Once a person has the condition, they will often need oxygen to breathe due to the decreased lung capacity. They may also develop secondary conditions, including cancer, chronic bronchitis and tuberculosis.
All construction workers are at risk if their work disturbs the soil. Silica is everywhere in the United States.