Work accidents do not always result in immediate injuries, and sometimes the effects from working in an unsafe work environment can take years to develop. Chemical exposure can leave workers with respiratory illnesses, a higher risk of cancer and permanent disability.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a New Jersey staffing agency for failing to train workers on chemical hazards, leaving them vulnerable to exposure. OSHA has levied $45,000 in fines and representatives have informed the company that it is legally responsible for the safety of its workers.
Another incident involving chemical exposure occurred in New Jersey last December when OSHA fined a chemical plant for toxic chemical leaks that exposed workers to health complications.
The company responsible had been cited in 2010 after a worker accidently inhaled a lethal dose of poisonous gas from a methylene chloride leak. OSHA investigators discovered that the gas had been leaking into the work area for five days, exposing workers. Methylene chloride exposure can cause chemical burns, vomiting and is a known carcinogen.
What Are the Health Effects of Chemical Exposure?
Depending on the chemical, injuries and long-term occupational illnesses will vary. Exposures commonly include substances such as benzene, pesticides, mercury, silica and acids. Since the effects of methylene chloride have been briefly discussed, we are going to choose silica as our next example to create a clearer mental picture of how chemical exposure can have permanent disabling effects on workers.
Silica is a component of soil, sand and granite. According to OSHA, more than 100,000 U.S. workers are at a high risk for exposure in jobs that include stonecutting, foundry work and fracking. Long-term exposure to silica can cause silicosis, a lung disease that can result in permanent shortness of breath, weakness and chest pain.
Can I Get Workers’ Comp for Chemical Exposure?
Workers who are exposed to and injured by harmful chemicals are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation can ensure that you and your family receive the benefits you need to recover from your injuries and return to work.
Unfortunately, some workers will face permanent effects from chemical exposure, such as cancer or silicosis, and might be unable to continue their careers. Workers injured by unsafe work practices or equipment may have options that extend beyond workers’ compensation, such as a lawsuit.
Due to the varying circumstances that encompass chemical exposure injuries, it is advisable to discuss further options with an experienced attorney. Spevack Law Firm has been defending the rights of New Jersey workers for almost a century, and we encourage our readers to contact us with questions regarding their case.
Spevack Law Firm – Middlesex County Injury Attorneys
Did You Know? With a budget or $552,000,000 and 2,200 inspectors, OSHA is responsible for the safety of 130 million workers.