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Silica Dust Exposure May be Linked to Rheumatic Diseases

Exposure to silica dust, even at low levels, can result in certain types of rheumatic diseases, according to a new study from researchers at the Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in mid-April, contained data that was collected from the Danish labor force from 1979 to 2015 and involved 1,541,505 men and 1,470,769 women. The report indicates that exposure to silica dust is linked to an increased risk of autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

Silica dust is released when flint, sandstone, granite, and concrete are ground up or otherwise processed. Exposure to this toxic dust happens most often in construction or factory settings. Small particles in the dust can cause damage if it is inhaled. The dust can accumulate in the lungs and cause inflammation that causes an immune system response.

Rheumatic diseases are a class of medical conditions that cause chronic pain and stiffness in the joints, muscles, and connective tissues. There are hundreds of types of rheumatic disorders. For the purposes of the study, researchers focused on certain specific conditions, including:

  • Systemic sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Small vessel vasculitis

What Did the Study Reveal?

The study found that as exposure levels to dangerous silica dust increased, so did the risk of autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Those with the highest exposure levels were 1.5 times more likely to suffer from these conditions than people with no significant silica exposure. Out of the participants involved in the analysis, 17,000 people were diagnosed with the autoimmune diseases of interest to the study researchers. When researchers looked closer at this afflicted subset of participants, they found that a significant portion of them had held jobs that regularly exposed them to silica dust.

The data also showed that a total of 1,490 people had experienced workplace exposures. Specifically, systemic sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis were the conditions that appeared most often in the study data.

One of the researchers, a professor at Aarhus University and Aarhus Hospital, pointed out that the study accounted for variables that might have otherwise influenced the results. The professor stated that the researchers controlled for the participants who smoked tobacco, a factor that could have accounted for some of the negative health outcomes. The professor also called attention to the fact that the occupational exposure limit for silica dust is twice as high in Denmark and Europe as it is in the United States.

Future Plans

Researchers plan to look into whether exposure to silica dust impacts the development of antibodies for autoimmune rheumatic diseases. They are hopeful that the link they discovered might confirm the causal relationship between silica dust exposure and the rheumatic conditions, and that further research will help them better understand the causal mechanisms involved.

The study was executed by researchers affiliated with Aarhus University, the Department of Occupational Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, the Department of Rheumatology, Gothenburg University in Sweden, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

What Should I Do After Silica Dust Exposure?

Whether the case is brought on behalf of a single injured person or on behalf of a group of similarly aggrieved litigants, a toxic tort lawsuit can be filed against a specific liable party in an effort to prove a case for monetary damages. This type of legal action can be taken against a defendant, such as a business owner who negligently exposed several workers to a dangerous breathable toxin that resulted in serious injuries or illnesses. Another type of lawsuit that seeks damages for a silica injury might be a products liability case in which a plaintiff or class action group sues a product manufacturer for their injuries from a silica product.

In the above example of the class action suit against an employer, a claim of negligence may be based on the plaintiffs’ allegation that the employer was careless when it allowed its workers to be exposed to dangerous levels of silica while they were working. For a case involving products liability, a plaintiff or group of plaintiffs might claim that a manufacturer did not list adequate warnings on the packaging for a product containing toxic silica.

In many of these cases for damages related to silica exposure, plaintiffs may be bringing suit against liable defendants many years or decades after their exposure. Part of proving the case depends on the ability to prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the dangers and neglected to take the necessary steps to prevent their injuries. For help with starting a claim, a victim should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Wilmington Toxic Tort Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Help People Hurt by Silica Dust Exposure

Silica dust exposure can cause health complications. If you developed a severe injury or illnesses, such as a rheumatic disease, as a result of an exposure to silica dust, you might be able to pursue a lawsuit against the liable party. The Wilmington toxic tort lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. will work tirelessly on your behalf to protect your rights. For more information and a free consultation, call us at 302-656-5445 or complete our online form today. We are conveniently located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.

Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week

Wilmington Workers' Compensation lawyers represent injured first responders. Cancer diagnosis rates among firefighters has become a disturbing trend. A multi-year study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently found that firefighters have a 14 percent greater risk of dying from cancer and double the chance of having testicular cancer or mesothelioma, compared to the general public.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council have come together to present Firefighter Safety Stand Down week on June 16 to 22. Both organizations recently issued the Lavender Ribbon Report, which provides a series of best practices that, if followed, are expected to reduce risk of cancer among firefighters.

The danger of exposure to cancer-causing materials comes from both the building materials and the gear worn to fight the fires. Exposure to contaminants in the air from combustion products is well known. Recently, firefighting gear and foam have been recognized as potential likely sources of exposure to carcinogens. Turn out pants are typically made using perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), as it has useful water repellent properties.  PFOA and similar compounds have been implicated as carcinogenic. There is no known safe alternative for making turnout gear at a reasonable cost.

The Lavender Ribbon Report

Helpful tips for firefighters in the Lavender Ribbon Report include the following:

Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Use full gear for all responses to minimize the chance of exposure to airborne carcinogens.
  • Use a second sock hood to ensure smoke protection of the face, jaw, and neck area that is exposed when using a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), and to always have a hood free of contamination available while the other is drying after decontamination.

Decontaminating PPE and Related Gear:

  • Begin gross decontamination at the work site immediately by using soapy water and a brush while continuing to wear a SCBA.
  • Place contaminated or soapy PPE in an exterior compartment or large storage tote to prevent exposure from off-gassing while in transit.
  • Clean SCBA gear and other contaminated equipment before loading it onto the apparatus cab.
  • Perform thorough decontamination of all equipment and PPE at the station.

Personal Hygiene Practices:

  • Use personal wipes to clean the head, neck, face, and hands as soon as possible after the response.
  • Refrain from eating or drinking until after gross decontamination and only eat in areas away from contaminated equipment.
  • Shower at the station within one hour of completing response.
  • Segregate storage spaces for gear away from the kitchen and sleeping areas of the station.

Lifestyle Precautions:

  • Conduct an annual physical to detect potential diseases early
  • Do not use any form of tobacco
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a normal weight
  • Track and record occupational exposure at fire incidents

Firefighters and other first responders are urged to pause their non-emergency activities during Firefighter Safety Stand Down week and educate themselves on reducing cancer risks through implementing best practices. The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act has been established to help develop data on firefighters’ risk of cancer. First responders are encouraged to report exposure information to the national registry.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Represent Injured First Responders

If you are a first responder that was injured at work, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits to help with medical costs. We will help secure the maximum compensation you are entitled. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or complete an online form to speak to an experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer and Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.

Future of Artificial Intelligence and Safety Concerns 

Wilmington personal injury lawyers obtain compensation for accident victims.Artificial intelligence can be used to perform a multitude of beneficial tasks at greater speeds and accuracy than relying on human intelligence alone. As the future of artificial intelligence continues to shine bright, the safety of products incorporating this technology remains an important concern for high-tech industries. Creators of artificial intelligence face legal liability when unsafe products harm users.

Handling the complex legal implications involved in accidents caused by using artificial intelligence often requires the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Some of the most common legal matters arising from the integration of artificial intelligence include accidents caused by self-driving cars, defective medical devices, and hazardous work equipment.

Dangers of Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous or self-driving cars use artificial intelligence to control direction, speed, and overall operation of the vehicle using sensors and other indicators. As artificial intelligence becomes smarter, the risks of unpredictable behavior can rise as machines attempt to predict driving patterns without the benefit of human oversight and subjective experience. When self driving vehicles hit the roadways, accidents will inevitably occur. Artificial intelligence designers and manufacturers may face liability for any resulting injuries under the legal theories of negligence or product liability.

Medical Device Risks

An increasing amount of medical devices have artificial intelligence incorporated into their design. Insulin pumps, ventilators, imaging machines, and cardiac arrest predictive tools are some of the medical devices designed to use artificial intelligence. Many clinicians rely on these applications to assess, diagnose, and treat patients. Errors in calculation made by smart devices can have devastating results for patients who are overmedicated, misdiagnosed, or improperly treated.  As artificial intelligence continues to transform the medical field, new studies related to a reliance on machine learning warn that successful implementation of artificial intelligence will be possible only if safety remains a top concern. When medical professionals relinquish direct control of their patients’ safety to such technology, they potentially face legal liability based on negligence.

Work Equipment Hazards

A rise in the use of artificial intelligence in the construction industry raises safety concerns as defective automated work equipment can become hazardous for workers. Contractors are using this technology to improve productivity on worksites. The future implementation of artificial intelligence technology may include the use of robotic arms to build metal mesh infrastructures, automated masonry equipment to lay brick walls, and smart video machines to identify potentially unsafe conditions.

When autonomous machinery malfunctions, it can result in serious workplace accidents, ranging from falls and roll overs to electrocutions and explosions. When automated construction machinery fails to operate properly or artificial intelligence software develops a glitch, its creators may become legally responsible for any resulting accidents and injuries.

Wilmington Personal Injury Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Obtain Compensation for Accident Victims

Determining liability for accidents caused by the integration of artificial intelligence can be complicated. Retaining the services of the experienced Wilmington personal injury lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. is the first step toward navigating complex litigation matters. With offices conveniently located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we proudly represent injured individuals throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 302-656-5445 or submit an online inquiry form.

Workplace Violence and Workers’ Compensation

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers represent workers injured on the job in Delaware.Roughly 2 million American workers report having been victim of some form of workplace violence every year. Countless more choose not to report their incidents. Workplace violence takes many forms from verbal threats and harassment to physical attacks. In some cases, workplace violence escalates to homicide. It is not just coworkers who inflict workplace violence. Colleagues, clients, customers, acquaintances, and family members can also perpetrate violence against employees at work.

Most workers know they are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits after a job injury or illness. Some states also allow worker benefits for injuries that occur because of a workplace assault or attack. Knowing what constitutes workplace violence and how these incidents relate to Workers’ Compensation can help prevent occurrences from happening or inform someone looking to file a claim.

A Closer Look at Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is any threat or act of:

  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Physical violence, including homicide

Researchers on the subject have identified circumstances that may increase the risk of violence to employees:

  • Workers who exchange money with the public
  • Workers who interact with unstable, unpredictable people
  • Workers who work alone or in isolated locations
  • Workers who work late at night
  • Workers employed in places where alcohol is served

Law enforcement officials, healthcare providers, and public service workers have a greater risk of exposure to workplace violence than other professions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends a comprehensive violence prevention plan for employers that includes training, policies, and procedures to address and extinguish harassment and threats quickly before they escalate. When an injury happens at work, some states require victims to prove the violent incident happened while the victim was performing job-related duties.

Some states further require the victim to prove that the motivation for workplace violence was work-related rather than personal. For example, if a bartender tells an inebriated customer he cannot serve him any more alcohol and he pushes the bartender out of anger, causing him to break his arm, he most likely has a valid Workers’ Compensation claim. If the bartender’s roommate assaults him at work because of a dispute over rent, his injuries will not likely be eligible for Workers’ Compensation because the attack was personal.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Because laws regulating Workers’ Compensation coverage for injuries caused by workplace violence vary from state to state, it is smart to enlist a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer who will assess all the facts of your case and recommend the best legal course of action.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A Represent Injured Workers in Delaware

Workplace assaults leave behind more than physical scars. They cause emotional pain and trauma that can linger for years. Workers’ Compensation claims for injuries caused by workplace violence are more complex than those for more straightforward job-related accidents. Trust the motivated and experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. to guide you toward the best legal course of action available after a physical attack. Call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. With locations in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we proudly serve clients throughout the state.

Occupational Exposure to Toxins

Dover chemical exposure lawyers help victims harmed by chemical exposure on the job.Millions of employees report to offices and job sites where they are in contact with dangerous chemicals every day. It could be at a hospital, a construction site, a laboratory, or a host of other places. Companies are obligated to protect their staff from these hazards, and employees should be vigilant about taking precautions as well.

There are many different kinds of chemical toxins in workplaces. Such toxins include:

  • asbestos
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • formaldehyde
  • ammonia
  • chloroform
  • lead
  • iodine
  • zinc
  • mercury
  • uranium
  • arsenic
  • others

Bodily harm from these toxins can occur after long periods of exposure, or during a one-time accident. Severe burns, blindness, respiratory problems, mesothelioma, and cancer are a handful of the wide range of harmful results of toxic exposure.

Regulations for Toxic Chemical Exposure

Chemical manufacturers make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available for companies, and these provide detailed information about the chemicals, their toxicity, reactivity, storage, health effects, protective equipment, and more. Companies should have MSDS books on site and adhere to their specifications.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides a Hazard Communication Standard, which was created to communicate the proper information about all substance hazards and safety procedures to all employees. This includes training on how to handle the chemicals, and how to protect themselves around them.

Occupational Exposure Limits, or OELs, govern chemical exposure levels in workplaces. OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) protect workers by setting limits on airborne concentrations of dangerous chemicals. There are around 500 types of PELs, and specific ones for general industry, construction, and shipyards.

Controlling Toxic Chemical Exposure

According to OSHA, company leadership has the most responsibility for controlling hazardous chemical and toxic substance exposure in their workplaces. Work practices and engineering controls need to be established and administrated effectively at all times.

Employees should also be highly cautious when working around and with toxic chemicals. Using protective gear such as face masks and goggles is crucial. Ventilation is another critical safety measure, and can be accomplished by diluting the chemical’s concentration with uncontaminated air. Isolating the chemicals in a separate area when they are not in use also reduces exposure, and the chemicals must always be properly labeled and their use monitored.

Accidents Still Happen

Having a safe workplace environment is an employee right, not a privilege. Yet even with safety precautions in place, accidental and unknown overexposure to hazardous chemicals occurs in workplaces. Other incidences occur if the company is not adhering to environmental regulations, or if material shipment, storage, or handling is done improperly. It can also occur if safety procedures are outdated.

If an employee becomes sick or experiences other bodily harm, they could be entitled to a Worker’s Compensation claim. In these cases, it is important to see a physician right away for an accurate diagnosis. If it is determined that the illness is from toxic exposure at work, the employer may have been negligent.

Dover Chemical Exposure Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Help Victims Harmed by Chemical Exposure

If you or someone you care for is suffering the effects of hazardous chemical exposure, contact a highly experienced Dover chemical and toxic exposure injury lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. We are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 302-656-5445 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Georgetown and Wilmington, Delaware and our attorneys practice nationwide.