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Chemical Exposure in the Workplace

WorkInjury4

Many workplaces use a surprising number of chemicals—some of which you are probably not even aware of. Although many chemicals are safe, others are dangerous even when exposed to micro amounts. As a result, too many workers become sick, develop cancer, and sometimes even die.

Chemicals are Everywhere

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 13 million American workers come in contact with chemicals that get absorbed through the skin. Workplaces are required by law to be safe for employees, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes guidelines that require that employers properly label and store chemicals and toxins.

Some of the more common chemicals at job sites include:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Pesticides
  • Asbestos
  • Aluminum
  • Benzene
  • Petroleum

How Workers are Exposed

Chemicals can enter an employee’s body in a variety of ways, such as:

  • The worker breathes the chemical. Often, workers are given masks to prevent inhalation but sometimes masks do not work.
  • Absorption through the skin. The chemical can enter the bloodstream or burn the skin.
  • Some chemicals might enter the digestive system if food or drink is contaminated.
  • An object that pierces the skin (like a needle) can inject chemicals directly into the bloodstream.

Once exposed, employees can suffer a wide range of complications. Chemicals can create immediate injuries or have insidious, long-lasting effects that are initially difficult to detect. Our clients can suffer any of the following injuries:

  • Burns
  • Lung injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Cancers
  • Death

Often, an employee must be exposed repeatedly to certain chemicals, but others are so deadly that only a single exposure might suffice to severely injure someone.

Holding Manufacturers Liable

If you suffered an exposure at work, then Florida’s workers’ compensation laws will prevent you from suing your boss for your injuries. However, you might be able to bring third-party claims against the chemical manufacturer. A lawsuit can provide compensation for your injuries to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Florida law requires that manufacturers provide adequate warnings and safety instructions for their products. If warnings are missing or inadequate, then any injured by the chemical might be able to bring a defective products liability lawsuit. It might not always be obvious whether the warnings were adequate, but an expert can review the information provided. Under Florida law, you might be able to hold other entities liable, such as wholesalers or distributors.

If you suspect you were exposed to chemicals or toxins, seek medical attention immediately. Also preserve whatever you think exposed you, such as contaminated water or food, or the bottle that contains the chemicals.

Legal Guidance You Can Rely On

Toxic exposures in workplaces are not like other cases. Often, our clients come to us sick but unsure of what exactly has injured them. These cases require a unique approach.

Earnhart Law has been helping those injured on the workplace for over 30 years. Although federal law closely monitors workplaces and chemical manufacturers, accidental exposures continue to occur. To discuss your legal options with one of our Delray Beach workplace accident lawyers, please reach out to us today.

Resource:

cdc.gov/niosh/topics/skin/default.html

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