Rhoades & Morrow

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Wilmington 302-427-9500 Bear 302-834-8484 Milford 302-422-6705 Lewes 302-550-0155

Category Archives: Occupational Illness

coronavirus mask

What Should Older Workers Know About the Coronavirus?

Workers who are at least 50 years old have experienced the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic differently than younger employees. Although employees of all ages have faced concerns and difficulties due to the pandemic, older workers are more vulnerable. According to recent studies, more than 18 million employees 50 years old and older are at risk of experiencing some kind of medical, occupational, or financial hardship directly linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What Factors Can Put Older Workers at Risk for Developing COVID-19?

COVID-19 tends to affect older workers more severely than younger employees. A senior worker is statistically more likely to have serious or life-threatening, symptoms, like respiratory damage, after developing COVID-19.

Another factor that puts older workers at risk is that a higher proportion of workers over 50 years old hold jobs in occupations that require close contact with colleagues and the public. Such occupations include health care and transportation positions, such as a health assistants who works in assisted living facilities, or truck drivers who encounter many different people.

Although acquiring COVID-19 is a serious risk in a traditional office, plant, factory, restaurant, or retail location, other dangers can seriously affect older workers. Older employees are vulnerable to economic hardships.

Why are Many Older Americans Unemployed?

In addition to being more apt to present severe symptoms of COVID-19, older Americans are being laid off in elevated rates. In many cases, older workers may receive higher salaries, and a company that has lost significant revenue may furlough older workers with large earning rates. This is a form of age discrimination, and companies could face legal penalties, such as paying compensation for lost wages and other damages. However, some companies still try to eliminate older workers to cut costs.

Often, unemployed seniors have difficulties getting jobs. Getting rehired, even with a good resume and work history, can be very challenging for an elderly citizen. Many employers discriminate against older workers because of their high salaries. Also, many companies feel that older workers cannot handle technology at work.

In some cases, older workers are staying home instead of going to work because they fear they will contract COVID-19. Although telecommuting may be an option for some people who are 50 years old and older, many seniors cannot work virtually. Therefore, an older worker may quit their job because they do not want to put themselves at risk.

How Can an Older Worker Stay Safe at Work?

Older workers can take proactive steps to care for themselves. Workers need to stand up for their rights and work remotely if it is possible. An older employee should feel confident in asking their employer to make fair and reasonable accommodations, such as allowing telework. Since the upsurge of COVID-19 cases, many corporations have become more flexible about accommodations.

Senior workers should continue to be mindful about their health. Even if they are facing unemployment, they should receive medical treatment if they need to. An older employee who believes that they were exposed to COVID-19 may wish to get a free test at a nearby location. Early diagnosis is critical when treating COVID-19, and it can reduce the transmission rate of the virus as well.

What Can Companies Do to Protect Senior Workers?

Companies can help elderly employees avoid contracting COVID-18 by providing safe workplaces. Additionally, an employer should try to accommodate older workers. For instance, employers should be openminded to transforming job positions so that employees can work from home.

Employers can also provide personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, wipes, and shields to reduce the spread of any bacteria or viruses. A company should also train workers on how to reduce the risk of acquiring COVID-19.

Will Workers’ Compensation Pay for COVID-19 Treatment?

What happens if an older worker develops COVID-19? Although Workers’ Compensation covers some occupational illnesses, COVID-19 may not be considered a work-related illness in Delaware. Many lawyers and employee advocates are motioning to make COVID-19 covered by Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Since laws are evolving because of the pandemic, it is important that a sick worker still speaks to a lawyer about their options. A respected lawyer will be able to evaluate a worker’s case and determine the best course of action.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Older Workers Affected by COVID-19

If you contracted COVID-19 at work, you should speak to a lawyer about your options. Our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow protect the rights of injured and sick senior workers. Call us at 302-427-9500 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

silica dust

Is Silica Dust Dangerous for Workers Who Are Exposed?

Workers are falling ill, some even dying, after being subjected to silica dust while making kitchen and bathroom countertops. There is a new fear that thousands of workers in the United States who make countertops from engineered stone are breathing in dangerous amounts of lung damaging silica dust.

What Makes Silica Dangerous?

Silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. It also causes a condition called silicosis, which occurs when silica dust enters an individual’s lungs and causes scar tissue to form. This reduces the lungs ability to take in oxygen. Silicosis can be classified as chronic or classic silicosis, accelerated silicosis, and acute silicosis. These three categories are defined by:

  • Chronic silicosis: Occurs after 10 or more years after exposure, and causes swelling of the lungs as well as trouble breathing.
  • Accelerated silicosis: Symptoms occur faster than in chronic silicosis, this usually appearing within five to 10 years after exposure.
  • Acute silicosis: Develops in less than five years. Lungs become inflamed with fluid and causes severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen.

There is no cure for silicosis. Treatment consists of managing the symptoms, and in severe cases, a lung transplant.

What is Engineered Stone?

Engineered stone is a composite material made of crushed stone that is bound together by an adhesive. It contains around 90 percent silica. Cutting this type of stone releases the dangerous silica dust.

Engineered stone is now a popular choice for countertops because it is less likely to crack or stain. Engineered stone holds no danger to individuals once the countertops are installed in homes or businesses; however, it is highly dangerous for the employees responsible for cutting the stone for clients.

Who is at Risk of Developing a Silica-Related illness?

Silica is dangerous to employees in high risk jobs, such as:

  • Construction work
  • Tunnel work
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Ceramics work
  • Different forms of mining, including coal and hard rock mining
  • Stone cutting
  • Abrasive drilling

What Are the Responsibilities of Your Employer?

If you work in a job that requires you to be around silica dust, your employer is required by law to protect you. Here are a few things employers can do to protect employees from developing an occupational illness caused by silica dust:

  • Replace crystalline silica materials with safe substitutes.
  • Use available work practices to control dust exposure.
  • Be sure that employees wear all necessary protective equipment.
  • Hold and participate in training, exposure monitoring, health screening, and surveillance programs to monitor any adverse health effects that may be caused by silica dust.
  • Make sure that employees do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in areas where there is silica dust present.

How Can Exposure be Lessened?

Controlling the silica dust can lower employees’ risk of developing lung disease. There are a variety of proven methods, including cutting the stone while it is still wet, and using a vacuum or infiltration system that removes the silica dust from the air. Even with precautions, workers can still develop a work-related illness. If you are a worker that has become ill due to being exposed to silica dust at work, an experienced lawyer will determine if you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation.

Milford Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Clients with Work-Related Illnesses or Injuries

If you have sustained a work-related injury or illness, contact one of our Milford Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow immediately. Our experienced lawyers will fight hard for your rights. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-422-6705. Located in Bear, Wilmington, and Milford, Delaware, we proudly serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

silica dust

What is Silica Dust Compensation?

Bear DE workers’ compensation lawyers advocate for workers exposed to silica dust.Silica is a common, naturally occurring material found in sand, granite, and soil, and is used in a variety of building materials, such as glass, concrete, and masonry. As substances containing silica are chipped or chiseled away, small particles of silica dust are released into the air. In recent decades, we have learned people who inhale silica dust are at a significant risk of respiratory problems and chronic lung diseases, including silicosis and lung cancer.

Workers in construction and other building trades are especially vulnerable to silica-related health problems because of their prolonged exposure to this substance. Many seek compensation for the serious and preventable health conditions that impact their quality of life.

Federal Safety Guidelines to Prevent Silica Exposure

Because we now understand the risks to workers exposed to silica dust in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, mining, and other industries, the federal government has strict safety standards in place to protect workers. In addition to limits on the acceptable silica dust levels in the workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to:

  • Use and maintain dust control systems
  • Require workers to wear washable or disposable protective clothing
  • Require workers to shower and change before leaving the job site
  • Require workers to use respirators in toxic environments
  • Post information and train workers on the risks of silica dust exposure

Employers who fail to adhere to OSHA’s safety requirements may be liable in a claim for silica exposure damages.

Liability and Silica Dust Health Problems

Workers suffering from silicosis or other chronic illnesses caused by silica exposure generally have three options to seek compensation for the medical expenses incurred as a result of their loss of income when they are physically unable to work.

  • Workers’ Compensation claim: Workers’ Compensation benefits cover medical bills and lost wages
  • Civil lawsuit: If the disease can be traced back to the manufacturer of a silica-based product
  • Class action claim: When a group of people are exposed to silica dust

If you have been exposed to silica dust and have concerns about the risk for disease or have already been diagnosed with health conditions caused by toxic exposure, it is time to contact an experienced attorney. A Bear DE Workers’ Compensation lawyer reviews your situation, explains your legal options, and helps you take the first step to recover compensation for your preventable condition.

Bear DE Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Workers Exposed to Silica Dust

While silica is an important resource used in ways that benefit our everyday lives, workers who are not protected from inhaling its dust have a significant risk of contracting serious, incurable diseases. If your employer failed to protect you from silica exposure, the Bear DE Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow assist with the financial impact a serious illness can cause. Call us at 302-834-8484 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Bear, Milford, and Wilmington, Delaware, we proudly represent workers throughout the state, including the areas of Elsmere and Seaford.

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