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Exposure to Chemicals on the Job

If you have sustained injuries resulting from a chemical exposure while on the job, there are two options for you.

chemical plant worker

Chemical exposure can occur in any employment situation. Workers in factories handling chemicals and other dangerous materials are more prone to toxic exposure; however, office workers have also been exposed to fumes from cleaning agents and paint due to poor ventilation.

The Responsibility of the Employer

Employees in factories handling dangerous chemicals are exposed when their personal protective gear and other safety equipment are damaged or inadequate. There are different types of protective gear and safety equipment for handling different chemicals. Personal protective gear includes goggles, face masks, gloves, boots, full body suits, and helmets.

Work spaces are required to have proper ventilation and essential safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, showers, and water jets for washing off chemicals. If any of the essential gear and equipment is inadequate or faulty, there is a risk that an employee will be exposed to harmful chemicals. It is the employer’s responsibility and duty to provide employees with the necessary gear and equipment.

Common Toxic Substances

Common toxic substances which may cause injury to an employee are asbestos, acids, benzene, paints, solvents, pesticides, and mercury. Inhalation of fumes from these substances, skin contact, or accidental consumption can cause injuries which may vary from mild to severe. Common injuries are burns and rashes; however, many chemicals are known to cause cancer or brain damage as well.

If you have sustained injuries resulting from chemical exposure while on the job, there are two options for you – a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. Which claim is appropriate depends on where the incident occurred and where the chemical came from.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

If you have been injured on your jobsite, you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. This claim does not require any fault to be established against the employer or a fellow worker. You re required to prove that exposure to the chemicals occurred on the job site and you sustained injuries because of the chemical exposure. Report the accident to your supervisor immediately and explain how the exposure occurred. Seek medical attention and inform the health care provider about the nature of the chemical that you were exposed to.

Personal Injury Claims

When you are injured at work, you are only entitled to a workers’ compensation claim. You cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer. However, if you have been injured by chemical exposure due to the negligence of anyone other than your employer, then a personal injury lawsuit may be filed. A personal injury lawsuit is also referred to as a third-party claim and you will have to prove the fault of the third-party involved.

5 Professions at Risk of Harmful Chemicals

Some work injuries, like slipping and falling, happen in a flash. Others take a longer time to develop. An example of the latter is complications associated with exposure to harmful chemicals.

The 5 Industries in Danger

Though many professions are at risk of harmful chemical exposure, the following five are in the most danger.

Mining – This job requires you to drill down into the earth in search of precious materials. Unfortunately, doing so exposes you to a variety of particulates, the most common of which is silica.

Construction – This is another profession that involves a significant amount of dust inhalation due to the materials and tools employees work with. Next, workers often inhale toxic chemicals from paint and similar products. Lastly, these employees frequently come into contact with asbestos.

Welding – Welders work with metals at extremely high heat. This combination often produces toxic fumes, which take a toll after years of exposure.

Farming – Though you might expect farming issues to come from pesticides, the greater hazard is actually bacteria and mold from crops. These organisms tend to be all over plants and make their way into workers’ lungs.

Food Manufacturing – The job that might seem out of place to you is food manufacturing. The reality, though, is that many companies make foods with harmful chemicals in them. When you work in a production plant, you are exposed to those hazards throughout the day.

What You Can Do About it

If you start to have complications related to chemical exposure, it is time to begin to workers’ compensation process. You can do so by reporting your injury to your employer, getting an assessment from a doctor, and speaking with a competent lawyer. Once you finish that third step, your attorney will do most of the legwork throughout the proceedings. In the end, there is a good chance that you’ll end up with a fair compensation package.

No matter how much you love your job, you must prioritize your health and well-being first. In the case of exposure to harmful chemicals, you could be in danger of a variety of health complications. If this is the case, your next move should be consulting with a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer and exploring your potential for benefits.

Missouri Workers’ Comp Attorney

Injuries involving chemical exposure can be quite serious, and the claim may become quite complicated if it involves a third party. Seek legal advice from a knowledgeable Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300 for a free consultation.

Updated: March 11, 2022