Posted by : attorney stevelee 08 September 2016

Cadmium Exposure for Maritime Workers: Cancer and Injury Claims

Exposure to cadmium—a toxic metal, identified as cancer-causing to humans— is just one more danger that maritime workers must add to their already long list of occupational risks.

Cadmium is a hard metal that’s present in a variety of protective metal coatings and plating. As a result of its widespread use, shipyard workers often find themselves exposed to toxic levels of cadmium during welding, hot work, metalwork, repairs, and painting.

Cadmium is a potent carcinogen known for targeting the entire body, but most often the renal (kidney) and pulmonary (lung) systems. Once a person is exposed to cadmium, even a relatively tiny amount, it may take up to 27 years for that particular exposure amount to leave the body. This means that although trace amounts may not be a death sentence, continuous exposure can cause the carcinogen to build up in the kidneys over decades. This buildup may eventually cause irreversible damage before it is flushed out.

Exposure Liability

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s cadmium standard, there are three exposure level limits that employers must observe to keep their employees safe. These include the Action Level, PEL, and SECAL.

  • Action level. For an eight-hour exposure time, cadmium levels must remain under 2.5 micrograms per cubic meter (2.5 μg/m3) of air.
  • PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit). For a 40-hour work week (consisting of no more than eight-hour workdays), accumulated cadmium levels must remain below five micrograms of cadmium per cubic meter (5 μg/m3) of air for all cadmium compounds, dust, and fumes present in the work environment.
  • SECAL (Separate Engineering Control Air Limit). For areas where the PEL cannot be maintained under 5 μg/m3, employers must take additional precautions—respirators, air filtration, work rotations—to ensure employees aren’t exposed to more than the standard PEL. Depending on the industry, cadmium levels that require SECAL precautions can be 15 μg/m3 or μg/m,3.

When your employer fails to maintain these safety standards, he opens himself up to cadmium exposure liability.

Getting Fair Compensation for an Exposure Claim

If you have developed cancer or another disease that you believe is related to your workplace cadmium exposure, contact an experienced maritime lawyer today. There are important deadlines associated with offshore and longshore compensation claims, so don’t miss out. Connect with us today by phone. You can reach us locally at 713-921-4171 or toll-free at 800-232-3711, or by filling out our online contact form.

Do you work in a maritime occupation that could expose you to cadmium? Do you know what your company’s policies are on protecting you and your coworkers from toxic heavy metals? In the comment section on this page, let us and our maritime clients learn more about how you and your co-workers are treated. Help us get a better understanding of the danger employers are inflicting on their employees. Your words may also help start a supportive discussion with fellow workers.

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