The simple truth is that most of us spend half or even most of our waking hours in the workplace. No matter what your occupation, potential exposure to harmful chemicals could leave you sickened, unable to work, and fighting to gain access to the Workers’ Compensation you are due.
Today, we’ll take a look through occupational exposure to harmful chemicals and what steps to take to protect yourself in the event of illness or injury.
Many South Carolina workers assume that simply choosing a career path that doesn’t involve routine work with potentially dangerous chemicals will protect them from exposure. Unfortunately, that’s not true.
Despite clear regulations put forth by OSHA and DHEC in South Carolina, workers continue to find themselves falling sick due to chemicals in the workplace that they were totally unaware of. These chemicals include:
Something as simple as being forced to work in a room that has been just recently painted and has yet to dry could cause serious illness in some employees. Chemicals are present in just about every workplace in America, and continued development of new and stronger cleaning chemicals, solvents, and other agents has resulted in higher potentiality for the average worker to face exposure to toxic chemicals.
Sometimes your injuries will show immediately, as in the case of chemicals burns, but sometimes symptoms only appear hours, days, months, or even potentially years after the initial contact.
In the case of many of the harmful chemicals listed above, the initial exposure isn’t what caused the injury or illness, but instead the daily exposures to small amounts of the chemical over time.
Injuries and illnesses caused by exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace include:
Don’t wait to seek legal representation if you believe your injury or illness was caused by chemical exposure in the workplace. Keep copies of any workplace injury forms, medical documentation, and communications regarding your exposure that you have been given.
These will be important when it comes to proving your case during litigation, especially if your initial Workers’ Compensation claim was denied.
Have you ever been stuck in a very small, not-well-ventilated room with bleach or another high-strength cleaner or walked into a newly-painted room whose windows were closed? Have you ever tried to clean using ammonia or undiluted bleach and forgotten to wear gloves right away?
You may recall feeling dizzy, nauseous, or even have gotten a headache as a result. Exposure to ammonia and bleach may have left your hands sensitive, itching, or painfully burned. This is chemical exposure. If you are exposed like this in the workplace, leave the area immediately and do not return until it is safe for you to breathe.
While exposures like those above are fairly obvious, often employees are unaware of harmful chemicals in the workplace until after they’ve become sickened. If you begin to show signs or symptoms of the previously listed illnesses and injuries, you may have been exposed to harmful chemicals without ever knowing it.
If you or a loved one was injured due to workplace chemical exposure and have been unable to work, Workers’ Compensation benefits may be the difference between recovering in comfort and constant worry at the loss of income while you really need to be able to heal.
In some cases, there may be very little you can do — in certain mesothelioma cases, it was found that employers misled employees about the presence of asbestos within their workplace.
If the potential exposure is known, however, you may be able to take preventative steps:
Don’t wait to request your free consultation. At BNTD Law, we are strong advocates of South Carolina workers. Our Workers’ Compensation team is dedicated to ensuring your individual rights are represented. To reach us by phone, give us a call at (803) 779-7599 — or just contact us online at any time.