For decades, worker safety advocates and unions have urged the federal government to create safety standards for construction workers in New Jersey and around the country who work with materials like sand and granite that contain silica. The inhalation of silica dust can lead to chronic lung problems and even lung cancer. Workplace safety regulations established by the Obama administration included protections from silica hazards, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that the new rules would be delayed by three months.
A representative from the AFL-CIO expressed concern that the delay would lead to an ultimate weakening of the original regulations. The regulations could have improved safety for the 2.2 million workers exposed to silica dust annually.
Under the Trump administration, the federal government is rolling back or reversing workplace safety regulations. Trump signed legislation that allowed companies in dangerous industries to purge records of worker injuries after six months instead of maintaining them for five years as previously required. Additionally, companies with records of severe safety violations now only need to mention citations from the previous three years when applying for federal contracts.
Workers sometimes face difficulty obtaining benefits after contracting an occupational disease due to exposure to harmful substances. A person obstructed by an employer from obtaining workers' compensation benefits could reach out to an attorney for support. An attorney could help file the required claim while ensuring that it contains all required information and that it is filed within the prescribed time period. An attorney could also provide advocacy if the claim is disputed or denied.