Chemical exposure is a serious risk that many workers face on a daily basis. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, exposure to harmful substances or environments is among the five most common causes of workplace fatalities. Nearly 10 percent of all workers who lose their lives due to occupational illnesses or injuries die as a result of chemical exposure. This amounts to an estimated 60,000 deaths – which is on top of the roughly 860,000 illnesses resulting from chemical exposure in the workplace every year.
While some exposures can result in immediate injuries (such as chemical burns), in many cases, exposure takes its toll over time. In fact, even relatively modest chemical exposures, if repeated over the course of years and years of employment, can lead to life-changing medical conditions.
Understanding Chemical Exposure
There are two primary types of chemical exposure: (a) exposure through the skin (known as “dermal exposure”), and (b) inhalation. Each of these can be a risk under different work scenarios, and each carries its own set of dangers. For example, a plant worker who has a toxic chemical splashed on his or her skin may suffer from burns, rashes, or other skin conditions, while a factory worker who experiences prolonged exposure to noxious fumes may suffer lung disease or other respiratory problems down the line.
Importantly, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also warns of the possibility of occupational illnesses arising from dermal exposure. In particular, workers may face risks from contact with non-volatile chemicals on work surfaces over the course of weeks, months, or years. This type of exposure can lead to serious health risks, with OSHA noting that workers may be unaware of the problem, and that, “…in many cases, skin is a more significant route of exposure than the lung.”
Some chemicals are more dangerous than others, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards that provides information on exposure limits, trade names of toxic compounds, and common symptoms associated with exposure to specific chemicals. This can be a very useful resource for understanding the risks you may be facing at work and knowing how to identify the signs of chemical exposure. Of course, if you are concerned about your health, the most important thing you can do is see a doctor right away.
Common Chemical Exposure Risks in the Workplace
Some of the most common chemical exposure risks include
These and other dangerous chemicals can be present everywhere from hospitals and offices to construction sites and other locations out in the field. If you believe you may have suffered an illness or injury as a result of chemical exposure, we encourage you to contact us right away. Whether through workers’ compensation or a claim for personal injury, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
Petro Cohen | New Jersey Lawyers for Chemical Exposure Claims
At Petro Cohen, P.C., we have more than 100 years of combined experience helping injured workers fight for just compensation. To find out if you have a claim due to chemical exposure, call (888) 675-7607 or email an attorney today.