The workplace can be a stressful environment at times, but it should never be a place that causes you harm. Sadly, thousands of people are injured on the job every day in many ways.
One of those ways is exposure to harmful chemicals. An employee can easily be affected if hazardous substances come in contact with their skin, if they breathe in the fumes, or if they accidentally swallow a small amount of the chemical. According to the Thomas J. Henry Law Firm, in 2015, there were 215 fatal workplace injuries due to dangerous chemical exposure.
While not all incidents are fatal, they can lead to permanent injuries, disabilities, or scarring, such as:
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation and blindness
- Lung diseases
- Brain injuries
- Breathing issues
- Chemical burns
- Radiation illnesses
- Congenital disabilities
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reported that 32 million workers come in contact with dangerous substances regularly. The risk of exposure isn't just limited to factories, power plants, and railroads, though these places are the most prevalent. Toxic exposure can also occur in poorly ventilated offices that use cleaning supplies with strong toxins. The lack of quality in safety gear like gloves, goggles, helmets, and bodysuits is another significant factor that may result in chemical injury.
Federal authorities have set strict regulations for handling and storing toxic substance, but not all employers follow these regulations. Some causes of exposure are:
- Improper labeling
- Inadequate training
- Poor administrative control
- Improper storage practices
- Faulty tools and equipment
Some of the most common toxic substances found in the workplace include:
- Asbestos - can cause traumatic damage to the lungs such as mesothelioma and cancer
- Benzene - confirmed to cause cancer
- Beryllium - can cause an incurable, chronic lung disease
- Diesel exhaust - has been linked to lung cancer and bladder cancer
There are ways to protect yourself and your co-workers from chemical exposure at work. The first step is to warn others about harmful toxins, which is a responsibility given to employees under the Hazard Communication Standard. It's critical that employees look out for each other so they can decrease the risks of injuries and fatalities.
The second step is to ventilate the room you're working in with exhaust fans and open windows and doors. Check the functionality of your protective gear. If anything is broken or not working correctly, report it to your supervisor and have it replaced.
If you do come in contact with a dangerous substance on the job, seek medical treatment immediately, and report the incident to a supervisor. The more information you have, such as recalling what happened in detail and recording the names of others involved, the better it will help you. Contact your health provider and explain the situation. Lastly, call your lawyer. They will provide the necessary steps to take for this situation.
If you or a loved one have been injured or developed an illness after being exposed to chemicals at work, the experts at Thomas J. Henry are ready to help. To speak with an attorney or to learn more, visit https://thomasjhenrylaw.com/.