America’s system for preventing worker illnesses and deaths from chemicals, fumes and dust is so broken that OSHA warns companies not to rely on its legal exposure limits to protect employees.
The Center for Public Integrity has produced a new series of investigative reports on occupational health hazards and the failure of the government to limit exposures.
The first installment, Slow-Motion Tragedy for American Workers, reviews the devastating impacts of exposures to silica and other workplaces toxins, highlighting the story of Chris Johnson, a bricklayer who developed acute silicosis in 2004 at the age of 30.
The substance was silica, a component of rock and sand that is the scourge of miners, sandblasters and other workers who breathe it in. When pulverized into dust, it can cause silicosis — a scarring of the lungs that leads to slow suffocation — as well as lung cancer.
Also check out the and accompanying pieces on the unequal risks faced by workers and a story on the business campaign to weaken and block worker protections
Additional installments of this excellent series will run on July 1 and July 3.