The most common setting where chemical injuries occur is in the workplace. Occupational exposure, whether long term or due to a single or one-time event, can lead to very serious or even deadly injuries or diseases.
A single or one-time exposure to caustic chemicals, for example, can cause severe skin burns, eye injuries and can damage the lungs and respiratory tract. Short term exposure to various chemicals that are common in the workplace can cause brain injury, memory loss and other neurological injuries. A single or one-time exposure often results from a chemical spill, splash, explosion, or from inhalation of excessive levels of chemical vapors or fumes.
Long-term or chronic exposure to chemicals or other toxic materials can also lead to serious, even deadly diseases. A worker may be exposed to chemicals over a number of years, but not experience the effects until decades later. And, sadly, the effects are often disabling or deadly. Some of the health effects from long term exposure to toxic chemicals can include: lung cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, scarring of the lungs, asthma, nerve damage, leukemia, and aplastic anemia.
A few common workplace chemicals that are known to be toxic include: chromium, cadmium, benzene, formaldehyde, diesel fumes, coal tar, nickel, aniline dyes, sodium hydroxide (lye) and a variety solvents. If you have been exposed to any of these toxins, contact our Cleveland personal injury attorneys.
In order to better protect employees from injuries related to working with chemicals, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enacted a rule called the Hazard Communications Standard. It requires manufacturers of chemicals to label its chemicals and to provide Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that describe the following:
- The injuries or diseases that the chemical can cause.
- The equipment necessary to protect workers from excessive exposure.
- The maximum amount of the chemical to which a worker can be exposed.
The Hazard Communications Standard also requires that employers adequately train their employees on how to use safety equipment and how to safely handle chemicals. For some chemicals, employers are required to periodically test its employees to ensure that they are not being harmed by their exposure.
If you have been injured or if a loved one has died because of exposure to a chemical or other toxin, you may be entitled to compensation from the following sources:
- Your employer,
- The chemical manufacturer, or
- Worker’s Compensation