Which types of workers are at risk of asphalt fume exposure?
Workplace injuries are a common occurrence in almost all industries. While some injuries result from one-time incidents such as equipment failures or falls, others are caused by prolonged exposure to harmful chemicals and fumes. One such chemical that can wreak havoc on the health of workers is asphalt.
Asphalt is an adhesive used in many products. Each year, millions of tons of asphalt are produced in the United States. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than half a million workers are exposed to asphalt fumes. This exposure can cause the workers to develop serious health problems.
Asphalt is a black or dark brown substance produced from crude oil. It can be in a liquid, semi-solid, or solid form. Asphalt finds application in many industries and is used for various purposes including:
- Roofing tar and felt
- Road paving
- Pipe covering
- Floor tiling
Workers involved in road paving, shingle installation, construction, and roofing are at a greater risk of exposure to dangerous asphalt fumes and related hazards. The two main hazards associated with asphalt fumes exposure include:
- Health problems caused by eye contact, skin contact, or inhalation of asphalt fumes or vapors
- Fires and explosions
Health problems that can develop as a result of asphalt fume exposure
Asphalt fumes exposure can cause a wide range of health problems. St. Louis work injury lawyer explains that workers can develop medical conditions both from short term and long term exposure to asphalt and asphalt fumes. Some of the health problems that a worker can develop as a result of asphalt fume exposure are:
- Skin rashes
- Eye and throat irritations
- Lack of appetite
- Respiratory problems, such as coughing, asthma and other respiratory issues
Asphalt fume exposure can also cause some long-term and potentially life-threatening conditions in workers. These long-term conditions include:
- Various types of cancer, such as lung, skin, stomach, leukemia and bladder
- Loss of bone marrow
- Low white blood cell count
- Fertility problems in women
While minor, short-term problems such as skin rashes and headaches can be treated with simple medications and by avoiding further exposure to asphalt fumes, the more serious illnesses often require extensive treatment and care.
If the worker develops a serious illness such as cancer as a result of asphalt fume exposure in the workplace, then he/she would require long term, or possibly lifetime treatment. It can also significantly shorten the lifespan of the worker. The treatment and rehabilitation costs associated with such illness can be quite high.
If you have developed an occupational illness due to prolonged exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, you can claim workers compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and part of wage loss. However, in some cases, it may be difficult for the worker to prove that the illness is indeed a result of occupational exposure. This happens in cases where the exposure occurs over long periods of time. In such cases, it is best to seek help from a competent St. Louis workers compensation lawyer.