Toxic Manganese Exposure: The Risks for Maritime Workers and Welders
Those in the maritime industry who perform welding and ship repairs are regularly exposed to fire hazards, confined workspaces, and fumes that can cause serious injury. Manganese is one of the toxic metals often found in welding fumes, and health care experts are only beginning to understand the true impact of manganese overexposure.
Manganese, an element found in nuts, greens, seeds, and whole grains, is an essential nutrient in small doses. Many people take a manganese supplement to aid in osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and anemia. However, ingestion, inhalation, and exposure of more than 11 milligrams of manganese a day can be toxic. Unfortunately, when working closely with the compound for eight hours a day or more, high levels of exposure can be hard for maritime welders to avoid.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s manganese standard, there are certain exposure limits and precautions that employers must maintain to keep their employees safe. These regulations include toxic exposure limits and safety equipment standards.
The Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) rule for manganese says that, over an eight-hour shift, a worker must never be exposed to more than 5 milligrams of manganese (fumes or compound) per cubic meter of air.
Safety Equipment to Guard Against Toxic Manganese
To prevent employees from inhaling manganese fumes, and to maintain PEL limits, employers are required to provide the following:
- Venting and purging equipment. All hollow spaces, cavities, or containers must be allowed to vent air and gases away from the employee while preventing exposure for nearby co-workers. Purging with inert (neutral) gas is recommended to prevent chemical reactions and explosions. Ventilation is a prerequisite to work in confined spaces.
- Air replacement equipment. Venting toxic vapors away from the worker is a start. However, if the air isn’t replaced with clean air, the worker will remain at risk for suffocation. All welding and cutting operations carried on in confined spaces must be adequately ventilated and circulated. This applies not only to the welder but also to helpers and other personnel in the immediate vicinity.
When your employer fails to maintain proper safety standards and ventilation, he opens himself up to manganese exposure liability.
Do You Have a Manganese Exposure Claim?
While research is still being finalized on the neurological effects of manganese exposure, the physical effects on internal organs are well known. Unfortunately, those who make their livings as welders and shipyard workers top the list of those at risk for exposure.
If you’re an offshore, oil rig, or shipyard welder who believes that improper ventilation is a serious problem at your workstation, you may want to speak to an injury attorney. The cause of your physical, neurological, or behavioral changes may be a result of manganese overexposure, and you may be eligible for compensation. Reach out to our firm today by clicking on the live chat link on this page, and learn more about how we can help you get compensation for your injuries.
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