Huge Number Of Workers Still Face Silica Exposure, Why?
In Australia, between 1 and 2 million employees continue to be exposed to silica according to expert estimates. Silica has the same effect as asbestos, considering the fact that silicosis affects thousands of individuals each year, and court cases experiencing a sharp increase.
It is however surprising to note that experts still say that they do not have an accurate figure on the number of people afflicted by silicosis, even though it is considered to be one of the earliest recognised occupational health conditions.
Silicosis is commonly undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, why is this so? Identifying and tackling the problem of exposure to silica is further complicated by the fact that many believe that silicosis has already been solved. The efforts of the government to use regulation in tackling silica exposure issues are complicated by this misinformation.
It’s interesting to note that experts are still not sure of the number of people suffering from, or lives being claimed by, silicosis, at present, even though it’s among the oldest known occupational health conditions.
The official figures as it stands, do not tell how big of an issue this condition is; something that many other experts agree with. Silica continues to be such a big deal in Australia, possibly due to the fact that many people believe that it is not an issue anymore.
Inhaling tiny crystals of silica is the main cause of silicosis. These tiny specks lead to the development of swollen tissue around them after they are trapped within the lungs. Death may come about as a result of lung failure, as these swollen areas increase in size causing breathing difficulties. Kidney related conditions, tuberculosis, cancer and immunological disorders are among the health conditions also linked to exposure to silica.
From sandblasting and mining to drilling and quarrying, exposure to particulate silica matter occupationally occurs in a number of work-related activities. All over the world, millions of workers face the risk of developing the disease, considering the fact that in a variety of construction and manufacturing processes silica sand is deemed to be an affordable and multipurpose material.
Even though the negative health effects of exposure to silica had been identified for many years, an estimated two thousand workers were, without wearing any respiratory protection, drilling a tunnel in silica-rich rock material. The exposure to silica particulate matter led to the death of 1,500 of these workers. This occurrence brought the hazardous nature of silica to the limelight and is considered to be the US’s most horrible industrial tragedies. The number of people suffering from silicosis is not comprehensively told by the official figure of yearly deaths linked to the condition.