chemical exposure in the workplace

The Dangers of Chemical Exposure in the Workplace

When people think of workplace injuries, they tend to think of broken bones, falling objects, and out-of-control equipment. However, another danger lurks in many industries—exposure to toxic chemicals. While the risk is greater in some industries than in others, the risk is always present. Chemical exposure can cause a wide range of health issues, and workers deserve to know the dangers in their workplace and their rights.

If you’ve been exposed to dangerous chemicals at work, you may have a valid workers’ compensation claim against your company. However, these types of claims are difficult to prove. With the help of a workers’ compensation attorney in Mobile, you can fight for the money you’re owed. Call Thiry & Caddell at 251-478-8880 to discuss your options.

Types of Workplace Chemicals and Exposures

There are lots of dangerous chemicals present in workplaces across the country. They typically fall into several different categories, including:

  • This category includes chemicals that can cause cancer.
  • Irritants cause reversible inflammation at the point of contact, generally only affecting your skin. However, they can also enter the bloodstream.
  • Mutagens cause permanent damage to your chromosomes, so they are a serious health risk.
  • Chemicals in this category are allergic to a wide swath of the population.
  • Teratogenic substances cause birth defects and should be kept away from women who are pregnant.
  • Corrosive chemicals cause permanent damage to affected areas.

The specific chemicals you’re exposed to depend largely on your industry and workplace. Common dangerous chemicals include various acids, pesticides, mercury, lead, benzene, and asbestos.

There are several ways you may be exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace. Inhalation is an ever-present risk, since you may not even know if a chemical has been released into the air. This simply occurs when you breathe in molecules of a chemical. You may also suffer damage when a chemical touches your skin.

Here, it can cause surface damage or pass into the bloodstream. You may also suffer injuries if you ingest a chemical or inject it into your body. For example, contaminated food could lead to the unintentional ingestion of chemicals, and an accidental needle poke in a laboratory setting could also expose you.

Industries At Risk

The CDC maintains data on workers injured by acute chemical incidents. They report that the five most affected industries are chemical manufacturing, educational services, truck transportation, food manufacturing, and utilities. These five categories account for a full 36% of reported acute chemical incidents. Equipment failure is a major risk factor in most of these industries. Other contributing factors include system upsets, human error, and intentional or illegal acts.

Some of the most common chemicals that cause injuries in these industries include ammonia, chlorine, carbon monoxide, hydrochloric acid, and sulfuric acid.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

Exposure to chemicals can have short-term and long-term effects on your health. Short-term effects generally happen immediately, making it easy to link the injury to chemical exposure. These side effects include rashes, swelling, itching, dizziness, confusion, coughing, wheezing, or digestive issues. Any of these unexpected symptoms demand immediate medical care. Local facilities include Mobile Infirmary Emergency Room and Ascension Providence Emergency Department. Your recovery depends largely on how quickly you receive treatment.

Chronic problems may develop over a period of months or years, which can make it more challenging to link your health issues to chemical exposure. Potential issues include COPD, cancer, digestive diseases, organ damage, loss of one or more senses, and a weakened immune system. These diseases can be caused by an array of contributing factors, and workers’ compensation companies will often claim that there’s no way to prove that workplace exposure was the main factor.

What to Do If You Are Injured or Become Ill at Work

Report any injuries or illnesses to your supervisor immediately. From there, you’ll want to seek medical attention and follow your workplace’s process for a workers’ compensation claim. If you are denied the right to file a claim, urged to hide your injury or denied compensation, it’s time to push back with a workers’ compensation attorney.

Contact Thiry & Caddell to Discuss Your Workplace Injury Claim

We’re here to help you fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve after a workplace injury. Set up a meeting right away by calling us at 251-478-8880 or contacting us online.

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