It began as a sore throat and later progressed into a severe cough and persistent burning in the lungs. You may have felt some minor fatigue early on, but now your whole body is in constant pain, and you find that getting around has become increasingly difficult. Eventually, you are robbed of your ability to earn a living.
That is just one example of the horrible effects of exposure to toxic substances.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 32 million employees across the United States are exposed to 650,000 toxic substances and hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Toxic substances and chemical hazards pose a range of threats to employee health. Sometimes chemical exposure has an immediate adverse effect on the body. Other times, toxic substance exposure will take its toll over a long period. In either case, the consequences are often quite severe.
In California, employees who suffer from injuries or illnesses resulting from toxic substance exposure at work can file a workers’ compensation claim and receive payments to cover medical expenses and lost income.
Workplace Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
OSHA sets permissible exposure limits (PELs) for chemicals and toxic substances. Essentially, PELs limit the amount or the concentration of chemicals in the air as a way of protecting workers from the harmful effects of exposure to toxic substances. However, with hundreds of new, potentially hazardous chemicals introduced annually, OSHA’s PELs only go so far. From construction sites and shipyards to manufacturing plants and other work environments where toxic substances and dangerous chemicals are used, toxic substance exposure poses a serious risk to California workers.
Under OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, an employer must identify and list all hazardous chemicals found in the workplace, plus the risks for chemical exposure. If you are an employee in a workplace where toxic substances exist, you should learn to protect yourself from toxic substances and hazardous chemical exposure by participating in any OSHA education and training programs your employer offers.
Understanding the Health Effects of Exposure to Toxic Substances
Common toxic substances known to cause workplace injuries in California include silica, mercury, pesticides, cyanide, benzene, lead, and asbestos, to name a few. Cyanide and asbestos are particularly hazardous to workers’ health because even the smallest amount of these substances can cause significant health problems in individuals exposed.
As mentioned above, the health effects of toxic substance exposure may be acute or may be chronic. Acute health effects are those that appear either immediately or not long after exposure. Effects may be minor, with symptoms like throat irritation or sneezing, while the impact can also be long-term and severe, causing permanent injury, such as blindness.
The chronic health effects associated with toxic substance exposure will take many years to manifest and are typically the result of long-term exposure. Chronic issues are usually permanent and may include cancers, brain damage, heart conditions, or liver damage.
Other health effects associated with toxic substances and hazardous chemical exposure include:
- coordination/balance issues
- difficulty breathing
- reduced sperm counts
Filing a California Workers’ Compensation Claim for Toxic Substance Exposure
When it comes to workplace safety, the most significant hazards are too often the ones that we cannot see. Except for a few limited situations, California employers are responsible for compensating employees who suffer from an on-the-job accident.
If you have suffered from an illness or an injury directly related to toxic substance exposure at work, you are entitled to file a workers’ compensation and collect benefits to pay for any related medical costs and replace lost income.
To file a workers’ compensation claim in California, you must first report your workplace injury to your supervisor as quickly as possible. Be clear that your injuries were caused by toxic substance exposure, and be sure to seek appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible. That will help you to construct a compelling workers’ comp case.
Filing a successful workers’ compensation claim in California can be daunting, especially if you are not feeling like yourself due to the side effects of toxic substance exposure. Hiring a California workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure that all of the appropriate paperwork is filed and that you get the compensation you are owed.
The workers’ compensation lawyers and toxic substance exposure experts from Aoudi Law can help. Our experienced team has helped countless California employees get the compensation they deserve following job-related hazardous chemical exposure. Call or text 714-386-9874 today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you through the challenging California workers’ comp claim process.