Though it may surprise most people, the general public encounters toxic chemicals every day. From the BPAs in plastic water bottles to the chemicals in cleaning products, toxins are fairly common, and we breathe them in without long-term consequences. For people who work in specific industries, however, chemical exposure extends beyond small amounts of these poisons. When workers are in an industry where their job frequently exposes them to high levels of chemicals, their health may be at risk.
Adequate Safety to Avoid Chemical Exposure
Some employers provide proper safety equipment for their employees to protect them against mass quantities of chemicals during their work day. Unfortunately, some employers fail to offer workers protection from the toxic materials they encounter daily. Most short-term, low dose exposure to chemicals won’t create health problems. However, people who are exposed to them at high levels and very often – like at a daily job – can become very sick as a result.
The Occupational Safety and Health Association dictates protective clothing that employers should provide to keep workers safe when they work with toxic chemicals. Overexposure to these substances can cause:
- Skin problems
- Lung diseases
Some health problems, such as difficulty breathing, show up immediately after exposure to chemicals, while others (such as cancer) may develop over time. Sometimes, health issues are temporary and will cease once exposure to the chemical ends but other health crises can be permanent.
Harmful Toxic Chemicals
There are many kinds of chemicals that can cause physical ailments. Some are risky due to long-term exposure, some create chronic health issues, and some create immediate health dangers. Keep in mind that some of the responses to these chemicals may overlap. For instance, asbestos exposure causes cancer, but it also causes chronic lung problems. Here are a few examples from each category of toxin.
Carcinogens – cancer causing agents – don’t damage the body overnight. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can mean the development of cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals include:
Chemicals that cause chronic health issues – like a constant cough – when workers are around them long-term include:
Some chemicals, what scientists call acute toxins, cause immediate health risks. They are extremely dangerous, and employers should take extra care to protect employees from coming into contact with these toxins. Some examples are:
- Hydrogen cyanide or sulfide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Organophosphate pesticides
Never work alone with acute toxins, and always ensure that there is plenty of ventilation when exposure is unavoidable. If an employer doesn’t provide aid and proper ventilation when workers use these chemicals, he or she may be liable for worker health problems.
Proof of Chemical Exposure
If you have worked around any of the previously listed chemicals and believe you are suffering after being exposed to them, talk with your physician immediately. A medical report can be the first line of defense against further exposure to chemicals in the workplace. It may also help your case if litigation becomes necessary for help with medical bills, time lost from work, or even death.
Because businesses have a vested interest in keeping news of chemical exposures quiet, it can be difficult for people who suffer from chemical exposure as a result of work-place negligence to get the help that they need. When businesses fear a lawsuit, realizing that one person with claims of exposure may lead to many more claims, they may do everything in their power to stop that person from coming forward – including offering hush money.
Businesses should be held accountable for risks to employees’ health on the job. One person’s failing health, as a result of chemical exposure, should put the business on notice that it needs to improve its health safety practices to protect those whom its neglect may injure.
Anapol Weiss is prepared to handle your chemical exposure claim. Our experienced Philadelphia injury attorneys will compile evidence and fight on your behalf for fair compensation. Call our office to set up your free consultation.