Drills are basic equipment used on construction sites. Workers should use protective gear when drilling, but one of the greatest dangers to employees involves the type of drill used. Pneumatic drills pose far more of a risk over the long term to workers, and researchers at the University of California Berkeley recommend that contractors should make the switch from pneumatic to electric drills to protect workers.
Pneumatic versus Electric Drills
Although pneumatic and electric drills have the same level of effectiveness when it comes to performing the tasks for which they were designed, the former is far more dangerous for workers than the latter. With either drill, the resulting silica dust is above the permissible exposure limit, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Inhalation of silica dust can lead to lung cancer, as well as a condition known as silicosis. Silicosis causes scar tissue to form in the lungs after prolonged exposure, affecting an individual’s breathing ability. While electrical drills produce silica dust at a level 11 times higher than OSHA’s permissible exposure limit, pneumatic drills produced silica dust levels an astonishing 444 times higher than permissible limits.
While silica dust inhalation may prove disabling or fatal, it is not the only factor making pneumatic drills more of a health hazard than their electric counterparts. Pneumatic drills are significantly noisier than electric drills, leading to potential hearing loss over time. Vibration levels of a pneumatic drill are more than five times higher than those of the average electric drill, leading to increased wear and tear on the body.
Silicosis Types and Symptoms
Silica dust consists of granite, sand, soil, and other components often found in concrete. Silicosis is an insidious, incurable disease that may not appear for up to 20 years after exposure. Symptoms of chronic silicosis include shortness of breath in the early stages, and can progress to chest pain, respiratory failure, and constant fatigue.
Some workers may find themselves afflicted with accelerated silicosis. As the name implies, symptoms become apparent more quickly than in the chronic version, usually within five to 10 years after exposure. Symptoms include serious shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss. There is also the acute type of silicosis, which may appear just months or within a few years of exposure. This form of silicosis often proves fatal, and if the victim does not succumb to the disease, permanent disability is likely. Symptoms include incapacitating shortness of breath, fever, weight loss, and weakness.
No matter the type of silicosis, lessened lung function makes victims more vulnerable to other types of lung diseases and infections, including tuberculosis. If the person is also a cigarette smoker, effects of the disease are often exacerbated.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help Workers Injured by Pneumatic Drills
If you or a loved one has been injured by a pneumatic drill while on the job, or is suffering from symptoms of silicosis, you need the services of the experienced Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law. Call us today at 856-414-0010 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the areas of Cherry Hill, Mt. Holly, and Camden County, New Jersey.