Silicosis Lawsuit in New York State

Stone fabricators who work with engineered countertop products are at risk of inhaling silica dust and developing serious diseases like silicosis. Quartz countertops, also known as engineered stone, are the most popular choice for kitchen and bath countertops in the United States. However, there is a hidden cost to workers who are exposed to silica dust at high levels and are becoming sick with silicosis. Quartz countertops bind silica particles with resin, and the fabrication process releases dangerous silica dust into the air.

What Is Silica?

Silica is a common mineral found naturally in stone, soil and sand. It is also found in granite and artificial stone. Non-crystalline silica is found in glass, silicone, and other materials and products. It has less of an impact on our lungs than the crystalline form. Crystalline silica—found predominantly in quartz—can cause lung issues, especially for workers who inhale silica dust during the fabrication of engineered stone products.

Exposure to silica is hazardous because it can cause silicosis, an irreversible lung disease, as well as other serious lung diseases, including pulmonary diseases and lung cancer.

Silicosis Lawsuit | Silica Exposure Attorneys in New York

Quartz (Engineered Stone) Countertops

Quartz slabs are cheaper and more durable than natural stone, but their silica content is far higher. When they are cut or ground, they release clouds of silica dust that easily enter the lungs and can lead to silicosis.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health “have identified exposure to silica as a health hazard to workers involved in manufacturing, finishing and installing natural and manufactured stone countertop products both in fabrication shops and during in-home finishing/installation.”

The highest silica levels are associated with manufactured countertops, which can contain over 90% silica. In contrast, calcium-based stones, such as limestone and certain marbles, contain little or no silica. Granite can contain up to 50% silica.

OSHA recommends that employers monitor and “control exposure to respirable crystalline silica” so that workers are not exposed to exposure limits greater than “50 µg/m³ as an 8-hour time-weighted average.” OSHA further recommends controls such as wet sawing, filters, air monitoring, ventilation, HEPA-filtered vacuums, and respiratory protection.

Silicosis Lawsuit | Silica Exposure Attorneys in New York Silicosis Lawsuit | Silica Exposure Attorneys in New York Silicosis Lawsuit | Silica Exposure Attorneys in New York

What Is Silicosis Lung Disease?

Silicosis is a lung disease caused by occupational (job-related) exposure to airborne silica dust particles, a byproduct of fabricating engineered stone countertops. This work is especially dangerous when protective equipment, like masks and respirators, are not provided. Even then, wet sawing, ventilation, and protective gear may not be sufficient to prevent inhalation of the harmful particles.

Historically, silicosis takes decades to develop with natural stone, but with artificial stone, symptoms usually appear in just a few years. Silicosis can be treated, but it cannot be cured or reversed. According to the American Lung Association, symptoms of silicosis include persistent cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. As the disease progresses, it may lead to more severe respiratory issues, including respiratory failure and lung transplantation.

Silicosis Lawsuit | Silica Exposure Attorneys in New York

Who Is at Risk of Developing Silicosis?

Silicosis is a work-related lung condition. As a result, those who have worked in facilities where silica exposure is high are the most at risk of developing this disease. Industries where workers may be exposed to silica include:

  • Stone countertop manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Sand and gravel work

If you or a loved one has worked in one of these high-risk industries and has developed a condition related to silica exposure, like silicosis or lung cancer, you may be eligible for compensation.

Silicosis Lawsuit | Silica Exposure Attorneys in New York Silicosis Lawsuit | Silica Exposure Attorneys in New York

Australia Bans Engineered Stone Due to Silica-Related Diseases

Due to the popularity of quartz-engineered countertops, there has been a spike in silicosis cases in recent years. Clusters of silicosis cases have been identified in California among fabricators of engineered stone countertops, where legislation has been introduced to increase safety measures and protect quartz fabricators.

Citing unacceptable safety risks to workers, Australia will ban the use, supply and manufacture of engineered stone, effective July 1, 2024, in a move that has been described as lifesaving.

Filing a Silicosis Lawsuit

If you were exposed to silica dust while working as a stone fabricator and later developed a silica dust exposure illness, you may be eligible to file a silicosis lawsuit. Silicosis lawsuits may be filed against stone manufacturers and suppliers that failed to create a safe workplace for their employees, causing them to be exposed to unsafe levels of silica dust. Silicosis lawsuits have been filed against stone countertop manufacturers and suppliers, including Caesarstone USA Inc., Cambria USA, Colorquartz USA Inc. and Cosentino Group.

Strict time limits, known as the statute of limitations, apply to the filing of a lawsuit in New York State. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to determine the statute of limitation that applies to your case. If you worked with engineered stone, and have been diagnosed with silicosis or lung cancer, please contact us for a free consultation. Our team of experienced trial lawyers will evaluate your claim and guide you through the legal process.