Toxic Chemical Exposure in the Workplace

Workers in manual labor industries are some of the most vulnerable individuals in the United States. As evidenced by data compiled by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration, these risk-heavy occupations such as manufacturing, mining, and construction leave workers vulnerable to a host of different hazards, leaving as many as 3 million individuals injured or ill in 2014. Among these hazards common in these workplaces is toxic chemical exposure.

There are many toxic substances to which workers can be exposed while on the job. Some of the most commonly used substances in high-risk occupations include chloroform, benzene, mercury, trichloroethylene, nickel, asbestos, and cadmium metal. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can lead to different medical conditions, many of them chronic and easily fatal. Because of toxic chemical exposure, many workers develop diseases like Hodgkin’s disease, mesothelioma, leukemia, and some other types of cancers. These substances can also cause people to get injured at work. Accidents involving these chemicals can lead to severe third to fourth degree chemical burns that could leave victims temporarily or permanently disabled.

Considering these consequences, combating prolonged exposure to harmful substances should remain a priority in workplaces across America. Fortunately, there are several precautions that employers can take to protect the well-being of their workforce. Providing workers with proper safety gear and equipment is one easy way to do this. Reducing worker exposure through rotating shifts can also be a helpful method. Designating specific areas solely for use of harmful substances can also help protect workers from risk factors.

All in all, however, it’s clear that employers have the responsibility to create a safe working environment for everyone in their employ. Employers that fail to provide this basic standard are at risk of being found negligent. Workers that become injured due to lack of proper safety protocols in the handling of toxic substances may turn to a legal professional to ask about filing a civil case against their employer.

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