Natural stone countertops are extremely popular, resulting in the employment of many in the associated manufacturing, finishing and installation industries. Workers whose regular employment involves working with natural stone have a heightened risk of developing serious health problems through exposure to silica. They should thus take preventative measures in order to reduce the risks.

Silica is a crystalline substance found in granite, sandstone, sand, quartzite and other types of rocks used in the manufacture of stone countertops. Inhalation of a small amount may lead to the development of silicosis, a chronic and incurable disease. The disease is a progressive one that may lead to permanent disability, the need for lung transplants or even death.

Those who are exposed to airborne silica also have an increased risk of developing associated diseases, including lung cancer, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration recommends that employers should have air monitoring systems in place to measure silica levels as well as provide workers with respiratory equipment. Workers should take care to keep their respiratory equipment on while working with the building blocks needed for stone countertops.

While workers’ compensation benefits may be available to those who develop chronic illnesses due to workplace exposure, it is best to avoid the need for them through careful prevention and safety measures. People who have developed a disease or chronic condition due to a workplace exposure may want to seek the help of a workers’ compensation attorney. Proving that a person’s chronic illness resulted from work conditions may require significant medical documentation. An attorney may be more familiar with the types and quality of documentation that will be needed, and he or she may be better able to litigate in the event of a dispute to the claim.