While worker injuries are commonly caused by single-instance accidents such as falling down the stairs, slipping in liquid, a mechanical failure or being struck by falling debris, there are countless other ways employees can suffer serious harm. One common cause of illness, injury and deadly conditions is the repeated exposure to hazardous materials.
Depending on the type of work and the safety features of the facility itself, workers might be exposed to countless toxic materials throughout their career. This exposure can be tactile in nature, due to inhalation or ingestion. The type of exposure, strength of the chemical and the duration of exposure can lead to numerous injuries and afflictions. From contact dermatitis to occupational asthma, workers can suffer lifelong conditions after exposure.
While there are innumerable types of chemicals that can be hazardous to the skin, eyes and lungs, three stand out as the most common:
- Benzene exposure is common because the material is used as an ingredient to create numerous other compounds such as detergents, drugs, rubber and plastic. Benzene exposure is a risk factor in workers developing leukemia.
- Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral often mined in close proximity to talc. Asbestos quickly became popular when it was discovered to contain fire and heat resistant properties. Asbestos fibers were often mixed with other materials such as floor tiles, seam pipes and fire-resistant clothing to protect consumers. Unfortunately, as these materials broke down, the inhalation of asbestos fibers led to asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
- Silica is another naturally occurring mineral often found in sand, stone and concrete. Like asbestos, when materials containing silica deteriorate, silica dust can be inhaled or ingested leading to numerous health conditions including lung cancer, silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
If they feel they are in danger of toxic exposure, workers must take action immediately. The company must provide a safe working environment that includes ventilation, washing stations, industrial clothes-washing machines and proper hazard disposal. If you were injured or have developed a dangerous condition due to toxic exposure in the workplace, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney at once.