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Workers' compensation for workers exposed to dangerous substances

Pennsylvania workers know that in construction and industrial fields, workers may occasionally be exposed to dangerous substances. One particularly hazardous material is silica, which can lead to cancer and death for workers who breathe in the particles. Those who have contracted illnesses because of on-the-job exposure to this and other dangerous materials could be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. 

The government has known for decades that silica is a particularly lethal substance, and exposure can have grave consequences. In 1974, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health set a limit on silica exposure for industrial workers, but experts have argued that these limits should be reduced. As regulatory agencies have debated limits over decades, thousands of workers have suffered. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that silica has endangered 2.2 million workers. 

In 2007 alone, approximately 53,000 individuals died due to work-related illnesses. Experts believe that these numbers are high not just because of the failures and mistakes of employers, but also because government regulations fail to protect employees. Any Pennsylvania worker who has suffered because of a work-related illness or injury would be wise to protect his or her rights and pursue fair compensation.

Injured or ill employees may need to work as their own advocate by taking steps to understand their rights regarding compensation. Despite the failure of regulations on dangerous material exposure, workers' compensation benefits should be granted to those who have suffered because of their job. Applying for benefits or appealing a denial can be a cumbersome process, but an individual has a higher chance of success with the help of qualified legal counsel.

Source: slate.com, "Working to Death", Jamie Smith Hopkins, Maryam Jameel and Jim Morris, June 30, 2015

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