Although modern safety equipment and enhanced safety practices have played a role in decreasing the number of worker injuries and illnesses due to exposure to toxins in the workplace, workers comp lawyers in Illinois can verify that exposure still exists in substantial numbers.
While exposure to toxins can occur in just about any work setting, industries that are more commonly associated with toxic substances are the manufacturing industry, the mining industry, and other industries where dangerous substances are used. Workers can suffer injuries or illnesses from toxins due to exposure to skin, ingestion or inhalation. Although many exposures cause only minor temporary injuries, others are extremely severe, permanent and sometimes even deadly.
Controlling Exposure to Toxins in the Workplace
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulates worker exposure to dangerous chemicals and other toxic substances in a variety of ways.
- Worker education and training are essential for protecting workers from hazardous toxins. The Hazard Communication Standard is designed to offer employees information about the hazards of toxins in the workplace.
- OSHA’s permissible exposure limits (PELs) are designed to protect employees from overexposure to hazardous substances. Unfortunately, an alarming number of these PELs are outdated. Additionally, as technology advances, new toxins and hazardous chemicals are being introduced at such a fast rate that OSHA in unable to keep up. Therefore, many toxins are not even listed.
Proving a Workers Compensation Case
Any worker who is injured or becomes ill due to exposure to toxins in the workplace is eligible for workers compensation benefits. While a workers compensation claim does not require that the employer is at fault for the injury or illness, a worker does have to be able to prove that he was exposed to a hazardous substance and that he suffered injury or illness due to that exposure. In order to help ensure that a successful workers comp claim is achieved, the injured worker should:
- Report the exposure and any injuries incurred to the employer as soon as possible.
- Get contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the exposure.
- Obtain medical treatment if needed.
- Consider contacting OSHA if it is believed that the employer is not following required OSHA safety standards.
- If a third party is responsible for the exposure, seek an attorney’s advice about filing a personal injury claim against the at fault party.
- Write down any details about the exposure and its effects while his memory is fresh.