Michaels & Smolak recently negotiated a large (several million-dollar) settlement for a Central New York worker who suffered an occupational lung disease. This is the second multi-million dollar settlement we have had with occupational lung disease cases. Most occupational lung diseases lead to difficulty breathing, and sometimes to death.
In this Syracuse area work injury case, the worker was a mason whose job included cutting through bricks and mortar with a powered high-speed demolition saw and grinding the mortar from between the bricks with a powered hand-grinder. Of course he knew this created a lot of dust (he would go home every day covered in the stuff), but what he did not know was that there were harmful particles in the brick dust that were slowing scarring and damaging his lungs. He ended up with a serious lung disease called “mixed dust Pneumoconiosis”.
I once heard it said that if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters. Any one of the millions of Americans who suffers from asthma can attest to that.
The most common occupational lung diseases are:
• Hypersensitivity pneumonitis • Asbestosis • Silicosis • Byssinosis • Mesothelioma • Pneumoconiosis (black lung disease)
• Occupational asthma • Occupationnal lung cancer
To learn about Silicosis, one of the common occupational lung diseases listed above, watch this excellent video:
Occupational lung diseases are, according to the New York State Department of Health, the most common work-related illness in the United States. Just like our client the mason, workers generally don’t realize their lungs are being destroyed until it is too late.
The sad part is that occupational lung disease is preventable. Employers and others need only improve ventilation, require protective equipment, change some work procedures and properly train and educate their workers.
Employers and others need to be convinced to spend the money necessary to prevent occupational lung disease. The problem is that cuttinng corners cuts costs and increases profits. That’s why lawsuits are GOOD, yes, you heard me, GOOD! Only through expensive lawsuits do employers and others who are in charge of work place safety learn that the cost of NOT controlling dangerous dust at the worksite is more expensive than controlling it. That’s one reason we at Michaels & Smolak are proud to be trial lawyers: We help make the workplace safer!