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Chemical Exposure Risks for Workplace Illnesses

Exposure to chemicals in the workplace can cause serious occupational illnessWorkplace chemical exposures are a terrifying reality. Unlike other dangers that manufacturing, construction, and oil workers face, there is often no warning when chemical exposure occurs. In many cases, you may not even know you’re a victim until it’s too late.

Understanding Exposure

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns that toxic industrial chemicals can be released in gas, liquid, or solid form, and can be characterized as chemical or physical hazards.

  • Chemical hazards include carcinogens (compounds that can cause cancer), corrosives, or agents that affect the reproductive system, lungs, or blood.
  • Physical hazards include chemical substances that are flammable, combustible, explosive, or reactive.

Many of these toxic chemical classes can be found in workplace environments. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have gone as far as to collaborate on a workplace Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. This “pocketbook” contains several thousand chemical names, classes, exposure limits (recommended and OSHA permissible), as well as an array of safety protocols to handle exposure of each chemical listed.

Although it would be impossible to list all of the potential chemical risks in this article—you’d get bored after the first ten—drawing special attention to major chemical hazards within the industrial work environment may be enough to encourage exposure awareness. Some of these industrial chemicals include:

  • Asbestos. Used as insulation in construction projects until it was discovered to be carcinogenic in the late 1960s.
  • Silica. Used as a major component in the manufacturing of concrete and glass. When microscopic particles are inhaled, they can have adverse effects on lung tissue on a cellular level.
  • Carbon monoxide. A byproduct of construction tool use, carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, yet can quickly incapacitate a worker, causing neurological damage and death.

Exposure Precautions

To ensure chemical safety in the workplace, OSHA mandates that employers and chemical manufacturers adhere to certain chemical safety standards. These obligations include:

  • Training. Employers must educate their workers on safety protocols as well as give them access to information about the identities and hazard potential of any chemicals in which they may become exposed. This training must also include information on safety procedures, exposure limits, and any measures that should be taken in the event of exposure.
  • Warning. Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate and label potential hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. They must also include safety protocols for handling and distribution.
  • Protecting. Employers are responsible for keeping their employees and work environments safe. This means providing adequate containment for toxic chemicals as well as proper safety equipment, such as filtration devices, respirators, and HazMat cleaning gear.

The Dangers of Exposure at Work

When employers fail in their safety duties, their employees wind up suffering the consequences.

Injury risks that can result from negligent long or short-term chemical exposures include cancer, lung disease, mesothelioma, asphyxiation (caused by the exposures deterioration of lung tissue and the resulting accumulation of fluid), brain injuries, severe burns, and even death.

Each of these debilitating effects come with the heavy costs of medical bills, missed work, lost wages, and physical and emotional suffering. If the stress of these costs weren’t burdensome enough, these expenses can pile up quickly and cause you to feel trapped under their weight. You may wonder how you’ll possibly be able to pay for them all, or when you’ll be able to work again to get your life back. Unfortunately, your fears and doubts aren’t uncommon. Many other victims of workplace chemical exposures feel the same way and have the same concerns.

That’s why we’re here to help you get the peace of mind you deserve by securing the compensation you need.

Claims to Pursue and Support to Depend On

If you or a loved one has suffered on-the-job injuries as a result of chemical exposure, you’re entitled to compensation. However, to recover damages, you must pursue allegations of personal injury by filing one or more of the following:

  • A Texas workers' compensation claim. If your employer has purchased workers' compensation insurance, as an employee, you’re entitled to receive benefits for workplace accidents, including injuries sustained as a result of chemical exposures.
  • A Texas personal injury lawsuit. If your company fails to have adequate workers’ compensation insurance, you may still be able to bring a claim against your employer for negligence resulting in personal injury. Your employer has an obligation to protect you and your fellow workers. When he fails to uphold this obligation, he becomes financially liable for your injuries.
  • A Texas health insurance claim. If you cannot recover compensation through your employer, you may be able to recover damages under your own health insurance policy. Although this claim may not compensate lost wages, an insurance settlement could cover the majority of medical expenses.

A resolute claim can secure the financial support you need to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and ongoing care. Our office will help you fight against those who would leave you exposed to the consequences of their negligence.

If you have a serious claim, and you’re unable to build a strong case foundation on your own, call us. Take advantage of the knowledge and skills we’ve spent our entire careers constructing; after all, that’s why we’re here—to give you the firm support you need during this uncertain time. Dial 800-232-3711 to request your free consultation.


Steven M. Lee
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