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Regulators start process to modify exposure to deadly substance

At even the safest and most mundane jobs in Aurora there is a risk of getting hurt. Even if it is something as simple as slipping on a freshly mopped floor or as serious as falling several stories, Colorado workers who are injured on the job deserve workers' compensation benefits. Sadly, it seems the risk of injury at construction sites is even higher than it is at most other workplaces, in part because of the chemicals and compounds to which construction workers are exposed.

Silica dust is just one of those compounds. Commonly found in construction and caused by cutting, grinding jackhammering and sawing stone, the dust is a killer. Each year, approximately 200 people will die from either the lung disease or lung cancer caused by silica dust exposure. Moreover, approximately 7,300 people develop new cases of silicosis each year, too.

Despite these statistics, the federal regulations put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are 40 years old. Even OSHA admits that the regulations are outdated, which is why OSHA is recommending new silica dust exposure limits. If the regulations are approved, construction sites would see 80 percent less silica exposure.

There is still a long way to go before the limits are approved, however. The regulations must first be released to the public for comments and, after 90 days, there will be public hearings. The hearings could last months.

Hopefully, if the new regulations are approved, there will be far fewer people getting sick and dying from this dangerous compound.

Source: Associated Press, "OSHA seeks new limits on silica dust," Aug. 23, 2013

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