Not all occupational injuries result from accidents; disease causes some. One occupational disease to which all construction workers — including those in Illinois — are susceptible, is silicosis. Silica forms a significant percentage of the minerals that make up the crust of the earth. For that reason, any job that involves brick, rock or sand exposes workers to silica and the risk of inhaling crystalline silica dust. These particles can cause silicosis that will lead to long-term medical expenses.
Silicosis is a disease that is debilitating, and it could even be fatal. When the worker inhales the fine silica particles, the tiny bits gather in the lungs and become embedded in the walls. The lungs react by forming scar tissue around the crystalline particles, making it painful and challenging for the victim to breathe while also limiting lung functions. The fact that these effects often only become evident after years makes this disease so dangerous because, once it is diagnosed, it might be too late for successful treatment.
Construction workers may experience symptoms without realizing the cause, and being proactive and reporting it to a physician might lead to early detection. Construction workers may be smart to look out for red flags, which might include breath shortness, severe and persistent coughing, and chest pain. Rapid breathing, fever and a bluish skin are further signs, along with the loss of appetite, weight loss and dark spots in one’s nail beds.
If left too long before diagnosed, silicosis can limit lung function to the point where affected workers might require respiratory assistance by oxygen-supplying devices. Permanent medical care might be necessary, exacerbating the already-high medical expenses. Victims in Illinois can seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assist with the navigation of benefits claims to secure the maximum financial assistance.