If a worker is exposed to poison ivy or other poisonous plant while on the job and is unable to work as a result, he or she will generally be entitled to workers’ compensation for poison ivy. Workers’ compensation provides injured employees with benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident, injury, or medical condition. It is important to seek medical attention and notify your employer about your exposure as soon as possible in order to protect your rights to workers’ compensation.
It may start with a red, itchy rash on the skin. The rash often starts as a series of streaks or patches, but can soon turn into red bumps or large, oozing blisters. These are all the tell-tale signs of poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac.
People often become exposed to poisonous plants while participating in outdoor recreational activities, such as camping or hiking. However, outdoor workers, including farmers, foresters, landscapers, groundskeepers, gardeners, and construction workers, may also become exposed to poisonous plants while performing work duties. Forestry workers and firefighters who battle forest fires are also at risk of developing rashes and lung irritation from the smoke produced when the poisonous plants burn.
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How to Prevent Exposure to Poisonous Plants
Workplace exposure to poisonous plants is preventable. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that employees take proper workplace safety precautions to prevent exposure to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. To keep poisonous plants at bay, employees should:
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, boots, and gloves when working in heavily wooded areas, outdoors, or near plants that may be poisonous.
- If exposure occurs, wash exposed clothing separately in hot water with detergent.
- Use barrier skin creams, such as a lotion containing bentoquatum, when working outdoors. Employees should wash off and reapply the barrier cream twice a day.
- Wear disposable gloves to clean tools with rubbing alcohol or soap and lots of water to keep poisonous oils off the skin.
- Not burn plants that may be poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac.
If an employee comes into contact with a poisonous plant, he or she should immediately rinse any exposed skin with rubbing alcohol, poisonous plant washes, or dishwashing soap. Exposed employees should be sure to rinse their hands thoroughly, focusing on the areas between the fingers and under the nails. To reduce itching and blistering of the skin, employees can apply calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, or wet compresses.
What Benefits Can I Recover for a Poison Ivy Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If an employee has to lose time at work due to poison ivy sustained while on the job, he or she may be able to recover lost wages. Additionally, if the poison ivy rash spreads in a way that requires medical treatment, these medical treatment costs can be recovered through a workplace injury claim. Employees may not always need to seek medical treatment or miss work due to exposure. This is because poison ivy rashes themselves are not contagious. A poison ivy rash only spreads or is contracted through contact with the plant’s oil.
Retain an Attorney to Claim Workers’ Compensation for Poison Ivy
If you have been exposed to poison oak or other poisonous plant while working, you should consult with a knowledgeable Illinois workplace accident attorney like those at Ankin Law as soon as possible. Our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers have considerable knowledge and experience handling any and all legal claims that may arise due to a work-related injury or medical condition, including worker’s compensation benefits and any third-party causes of action that might apply.