New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers – Chemical Exposure
Workers in many industries are exposed to chemicals on a daily basis, however some situations are more dangerous than others. Employees can suffer injury when chemicals come into contact with their skin, are inhaled, or even when small quantities are accidentally swallowed. If you are routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals on the job, the negative effects may take years to manifest. The experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Shebell & Shebell understand the serious nature of health conditions caused by chemical exposure. Because we have seen first hand how this type of injury impacts workers and their families, we go the extra mile to quickly get our clients the Workers’ Compensation benefits they need to cover medical expenses and lost wages.w
Who Is At Risk For Chemical Exposure Injury?
The following groups are particularly at risk for chemical exposure injuries:
- Factory workers
- Warehouse workers
- Chemical plant workers
- Garage workers
- Maintenance workers
- Railroad workers
- Gasoline processors
- Gas station workers
- Oil refinery workers
- Dry cleaners
- Farm, garden and nursery workers
- Pesticide manufacturers
- Steel workers
- Foundry workers
- Fracking workers
- Industrial workers
- Mine workers
- Those who work in enclosed spaces
Although most cases of toxic chemical exposure occur in industrial settings, workers in any industry are susceptible. Even office workers exposed to cleaning chemicals or paint may suffer injury if the area is not properly ventilated.
If you routinely work with dangerous chemicals, your employer has a duty to provide you with proper protective gear, including goggles, gloves, a helmet, full body suit or ventilation system, depending on the type of chemical you are working with. If your protective gear is inadequate, you may be at risk.
Common Dangerous Chemicals and Their Effects
- Benzene: Benzene is produced by cigarette smoke, forest fires, automobile exhaust, and is used in the production of plastics, gasoline, rubber, synthetics, resin and other materials. Benzene exposure has been linked to all types of leukemia and some blood disorders, including aplastic anemia.
- Teflon®: Teflon®, or perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA), is a non-stick chemical manufactured by DuPont. Other companies stopped manufacturing PFOA in 2006 due to mounting concerns that the chemical may be linked to reproductive disorders, cancer and developmental problems.
- Mercury: Mercury is found in dental fillings, thermometers, batteries and chlorine. Industrial boilers, coal power plants, and burning hazardous materials are also known emit mercury. Exposure can cause birth defects, developmental problems, neurological damage and kidney damage.
- Manganese: Manganese is often an issue for those who work in the steel and welding industries. It is present in welding rod fumes, automobile exhaust and fumes from industrial plants. Although exposure to manganese can cause many health conditions, it is commonly associated with Manganism, or “welder’s disease,” a type of Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms include muscle stiffness, difficulty speaking and walking, depression, slowed motor skills, dementia and digestive dysfunction.
- Beryllium: Beryllium is a metal or alloy used in dental laboratories, metal recycling, defense industries (weapons production) and metal machine shops. If you have been exposed to beryllium, you may suffer from skin irritation, acute beryllium disease (ABD), or chronic beryllium disease (CBD or berylliosis). CBD begins with flu-like symptoms then escalates to lung and cardiopulmonary disease.
- Pesticides: Pesticides are known to cause various types of cancer, including leukemia, birth defects, developmental disorders, asthma and neurological disorders.
- Asbestos: Asbestos is known to cause cancer (including lung cancer and mesothelioma) and various types of lung problems. Not only are those who routinely work with asbestos at risk, but their family members are also at risk as a result of secondhand exposure. Workers involved in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center are at risk. Because the North Tower was constructed using asbestos, hundreds of tons of the dangerous chemical were released into the atmosphere during the attack.
- Silica: Silica dust is known to cause lung disease and lung cancer.
- Methylene chloride: Also called dichloromethane, this chemical is used in many industries, including paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, adhesive, resin, foam and film manufacturing. The CDC calls it a “potential occupational carcinogen.”
- Cadmium: Due to this metal’s low permissible exposure limit, one may be exposed to a toxic quantity even if they only come into contact with trace quantities. Manufacturers, landfill operators and construction workers may all be exposed to cadmium. It can be found in batteries, alloys, electroplates and solar cells. Workers exposed to cadmium can suffer flu-like symptoms, respiratory problems, kidney problems that can be fatal, and loss of bone density.
- Toxic mold: Toxic mold spores can grow in poorly ventilated buildings, carpets and humidifiers. Symptoms of exposure include asthmas, sinus irritation, coughing, memory loss, moodiness and chronic headaches.
Other toxic chemicals are often found in cleaning solvents, dry cleaning solvents, spray paint, paint removers, dyes, fuel, degreasing compounds, acids and lubricants.
Workers whose skin comes into contact with toxic chemicals can also suffer from skin rashes and chemical burns.
What You Can Do
If you suspect that you have been exposed to a dangerous chemical at work, you should:
- Keep an ongoing journal of the conditions of your job sites, including dates and contact information of employers
- Report your exposure to your supervisor immediately
- Explain exactly how the exposure occurred
- Gather contact information from any witnesses
- Seek medical treatment if necessary, and explain to them that you were exposed to a toxic chemical
- Save all documentation of exposure, including OSHA reports, formal incident reports, newspaper accounts of events related to your exposure and medical records
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Shebell & Shebell Get Compensation For People Exposed To Chemicals At Work
If you have developed a health condition because you were exposed to toxic chemicals at work, our team of trusted Workers’ Compensation lawyers can help you determine whether you are eligible for benefits. You have two years from the date of your last exposure or the date you knew your disability was caused by your job to file a claim for Workers’ Compensation. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today. We proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean Counties.