Chemical Exposure and Toxic Work Environments
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Explore the legal aspects of chemical exposure and toxic work environments with Dressie Law Firm. Learn about your rights and how to protect your health in the workplace.
Everything to Know About Chemical Exposure and Toxic Work Environments
Toxic chemicals can cause harm when inhaled, ingested, or come in contact with skin. The risk of chemical exposure is greater in some industries, specifically health, research, manufacturing, and trucking, than in others.
Chemical exposure and toxic work environments can have devastating health effects, which can be instant or delayed, depending on the severity of the exposure. Instant damages include skin burns, rashes, eye damage, lung diseases, organ damage, and death. Delayed effects include lung and brain damage, neurological problems, and congenital disabilities.
You can seek compensation for damages through workers’ compensation if you’re injured because of chemical exposure in the workplace. For the best possible results, you need an experienced attorney to advocate for your rights and represent you. That’s what we do best at Dressie Law Firm.
Our attorneys are proficient in helping victims of workplace hazards get fair compensation and seek justice. We provide legal counsel and representation to help protect your rights. Contact our law firm today to learn how we can help in your workplace injury case.
Understanding Chemical Exposure in the Workplace
Chemical exposure can happen when employees are exposed to toxic substances on the job. This can occur due to accidental spillage or daily exposure to hazardous materials. In research and health facilities, employees can also inhale dangerous chemicals or even suffer virus exposure.
Some accidents happen when employees don’t have adequate personal protection equipment. Others occur offsite, like cargo spills following a truck accident. Chemical exposure can result in severe injury, disability, or even death.
Types of Workplace Chemical Hazards
There are many hazardous chemicals with health impacts. Common hazardous substances include asbestos, lead, benzene, and mercury. Other toxic substances include tungsten, silica, manganese, hydrochloric acid, arsenic, ricin, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide.
Pesticides, contaminated groundwater, and hazardous dust can also cause injury or disease. Mercury is linked to brain damage, while asbestos can lead to severe respiratory diseases. Hazardous chemicals like acids and flammable liquids can result in a skin burn accident.
Exposure through inhalation may occur when chemical fumes enter the air circulation. This can result in breathing problems, illness, and permanent damage to respiratory and nervous systems. Skin contact exposures can also cause permanent damage, such as blindness if the chemical contacts your eyes.
Causes of Chemical Accidents in the Workplace
Exposure to dangerous substances at work isn’t restricted to companies dealing with such chemicals. Accidents can happen on the roadside or at a client’s office. Most toxic material exposures result from other accidents, like spillage and road crashes.
Construction workers may interact with hazardous materials on a daily basis. Employees in the trucking industry may be exposed to fumes leaking from the tankers they drive. Workers in factories, manufacturing plants, and petrochemical industries may also be exposed.
Some cases of exposure in the workplace stem from negligent third parties. For instance, contractors may fail to provide adequate warnings and safety measures to staff members. Manufacturers may also be liable for defective containers or machines as well as personal protective equipment.
Common Injuries From Chemical Exposure
Depending on the involved toxic materials, chemical hazards can result in a wide range of injuries. Some exposures cause temporary illnesses. Others have long-term health issues that might require a lifetime of medical aid. Here are some of the common injuries from chemical exposure:
Burns and skin damage
Respiratory diseases like bronchitis
Cancers and tumors
Your Right to a Safe Workplace
Thousands of employees die annually from the long-term effects of chemical exposure and toxic workplace environments. Many of these deaths are avoidable through safety protocols and training. Employers can use free resources from the following organizations:
Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences NIEHS
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists ACGIH
The National Institute of Health (NIH) offers resources for chemical hazard identification and assessment. Employers can also find help on chemical safety and security, incident response, and other facets. All this is made available to protect workers from hazards.
OSHA guidelines and standards cover worker education, hazard control, and permissible occupational exposure limits. Companies must also comply with limits provided by federal agencies like NIOSH and other bodies. Compliance involves evaluating, identifying, and eliminating potential hazards.
With so many training resources available, there’s no excuse for slacking on occupational safety. Workers are entitled to a safe workplace. Employers are required to maintain a safe environment. Below are the main duties of employers to their employees:
Providing proper training on employee exposure
Informing employees of the existence and nature of exposure hazards
Offering prompt treatment to workers injured on the job
Protecting workers by providing adequate protective gear for hazardous jobs
Providing adequate material safety data sheets
Availing of additional resources related to chemical safety and health risks
Seeking Compensation When Injured
You can sue the negligent party if you’ve suffered injuries or health impacts due to workplace chemical hazards. Since you can’t sue your employer, your best approach is to pursue the workers’ compensation. However, you can sue negligent third parties other than your employer.
Seeking medical attention is the first step you should take following exposure to or contact with hazardous chemicals. Prompt examination and treatment can prevent the risk of adverse health impacts. Here are all the steps to take:
- Visit a Doctor: See an approved doctor immediately after you become aware of the exposure. Request comprehensive medical assessment.
- Report the Incident: Inform your employer as soon as possible. You may need to submit an injury report.
- Gather Evidence: Take pictures of the injury and keep all medical bills and receipts for other out-of-pocket expenses. Collect witness testimony and other supporting evidence if possible.
- File a Workers’ Comp Claim: Fill in and file Form WC-14, notice of claim, with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
You can take legal action against third parties held liable for the exposure. Some cases of chemical exposure might be caused by the negligence of contractors, manufacturers, coworkers, or other third parties. You can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the third party in such scenarios.
Contact Our Workplace Injury Attorneys at Dressie Law Firm
Exposure to chemicals and toxic work environments can affect your health in various ways. Although some exposures cause temporary irritation, others can be debilitating or fatal. You may also be at a greater risk of developing long-term health conditions.
Employers have a role in keeping employees safe. As such, American workers who suffer injuries caused by chemical exposure can seek compensation. However, workplace injuries can have multiple liable parties, so you need legal guidance for such cases.
Dressie Law Firm has skilled workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys ready to help you. Our team has successfully handled cases involving chemical exposure in the workplace. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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