Fracking has been in and out of headlines across the country, but the newest information surrounding the controversial process is how it could damage Wisconsin workers' health. Any time someone sustains a work injury, it can result in hospitalization, but fracking appears to damage someone's health over the long term. This type of work injury can be concerning, especially since the sands from fracking contain a component long linked to silicosis and lung cancer.
Fracking involves blasting water, chemicals and silica sand into bedrock in an effort to release natural gas. Now that natural gas supply is meeting the demand and has saved Americans countless dollars in energy savings, it seems to be coming at a high cost. Health concerns have arisen now about the process including metal contamination of resident's drinking water and the exhaust being pumped in the air. While this could pose a hazard to residents around fracking sites, the employees involved in the process may be more at risk because of their close proximity.
When the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health stepped in and monitored worker's exposure to silica, they found disturbing results. 79 percent of air samples that came in showed that workers were exposed to 10 times more silica than recommended. One result showed 137 times the amount labeled as safe. A senior industrial hygienist with the organization called the findings an 'occupational hazard of antiquity.'
Silicosis is a condition that can take decades to appear and once it is found, the condition cannot be cured. It is also a progressive disease and the effects are irreversible. OSHA has issued no statement on whether new regulations will be devised due to these disturbing findings. Wisconsin workers suffering from a work injury involving fracking dust and who are now experiencing health troubles may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Knowing one's legal rights can help an employee receive the benefits they are entitled to under the state law.
Source: Huffington Post, "Fracking Sand May Pose Health Hazard To Workers, Residents," Lynne Peeples, Nov. 16, 2012