Workplace fracking sites found to exceed OSHA limits

Workers in Cleveland, take note: A recent alert published jointly by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warned of high levels of silica dust at oil and gas fracking sites. Hazardous materials like silica dust discovered at these workplaces have been linked to lung disease and lung cancer, as well as to other conditions like tuberculosis.

The 2012 alert was recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene and detailed findings made in the examination of 116 air samples from fracking sites in Colorado, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Texas. The material detected was dust that contained high levels of a substance called breathable crystalline silica, which has also been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as kidney and autoimmune disease. The alert was issued in the hopes that steps will be taken to ensure the health and safety of workers at these sites, researchers said.

The study, which was made with the cooperation of oil and gas companies, showed that breathable silica levels at some work sites was much higher than levels allowed under NIOSH or even the more permissive standards of OSHA. In fact, 79 percent of the samples showed exposures higher than NIOSH's recommended level, and 47 percent were higher than the level permitted by OSHA. Almost 10 percent of the samples showed silica at a level at least 10 times that allowed by OSHA, and one sample registered more than 25 times that limit.

Diseases caused by exposure to hazardous materials can be devastating. Ohio toxic materials lawyers may be able to help suffering workers and their families by arranging compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Source: Coshocton Tribune, "OSHA warns of fracking sand danger", Hannah Sparling, July 26, 2013

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