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Monday, June 3, 2013

Chemical Exposure: Devastating Consequences

Today's post comes from guest author Charlie Domer from The Domer Law Firm.

Chemical exposure in the workplace can have an insidious--yet devasating--effect on a worker.  In a wide-ranging article, the New York Times presented an in-depth view of chemical exposure at furniture factories in North Carolina:

"As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester" The article focused on the questionable ability of OSHA to regulate workplace chemicals, as well as the personal (and neurological) toll caused by such exposure.
Somewhat absent from the discussion was a focus on workers' compensation benefits for these workers.  Occupational exposure is not limited to repetitive back injuries or other orthopedic conditions.

Charlie Domer
While sometimes more difficult to detect or pinpoint, exposure to serious chemicals in the workplace can result in health consequences for the exposed worker.  In Wisconsin, for example, an injured worker can bring a claim for the medical effects caused by exposure to workplace chemicals.

These occupational exposure claims , if supported by a medical physician, entitle the injured worker to benefits under the Wisconsin worker's compensation act.  Pinpointing the precise chemcial causing the exposure can be difficult, but a worker can attempt to obtain the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from the employer that identifies chemicals/toxins being used.  Presenting that information to a qualified physician can assist in determining causation.

In many cases, a worker can experience a permanent sensitization to certain chemicals--precluding the ability to continue working at the same employer or facility.  In these scenarios, a worker may have the right to bring a claim for a loss of earning capacity or even be retrained into a new field that avoids the exposure.

Read more about OSHA and workers' compensation:
May 04, 2013
OSHA today sent a memorandum to the agency's regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational ...
May 10, 2013
clients' failure to warn claims based on the argument that such claims are preempted by OSHA's hazard communication standard. Their argument is based on an unpublished NJ Appellate Division decision, Bass v.
Mar 31, 2013
If workplaces were safer then there would be no reason to have a workers' compensation program at all. OSHA, The Occupational Safety and Head Health Administration (OSHA), does just that, but its enforcement powers are ...
Mar 19, 2013
OSHA inspectors found that procedures were not used to lock out the energy source of a conveyor belt system while the worker was clearing a cardboard jam, which resulted in the amputation. OSHA cited the company with a ...