Each day, workers across the country are exposed to hazardous substances as part of their day-to-day work routines. Employers are required to tell their employees about the dangerous materials they might come across or need to handle. They are also required to place a Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) binder somewhere accessible by all employees so that they can educate themselves further about those substances, their dangers, side effects of exposure, first-aid procedures, and more.
However, not all employers are diligent about updating their MSDS or even notifying workers about the substances in their workspaces. It might be possible that you have been exposed to dangerous substances, chemicals, and materials without realizing it.
What dangerous materials are in the average workplace?
- Asbestos: Although asbestos has been linked to the deadly lung cancer called mesothelioma, it is still relatively common in commercial and industrial construction. The naturally occurring material is a cheap and effective insulator, which is why there is a chance that you might be working around it without knowing.
- Lead: Paints and pipes with high lead contents have mostly been discontinued or prohibited, but not entirely. As with asbestos, your chances of working around lead increases if you are employed in an industrial or manufacturing sector.
- Benzene: One of the most common chemical compounds in various types of pesticides, rubbers, and plastics is benzene. Unfortunately, it is also a toxic substance capable of causing different forms of cancer and other serious illnesses if someone is exposed to it regularly, like a landscaper who uses pesticides each day while working.
These three materials are just common culprits in commercial and industrial settings, as well as some residential structures like apartment complexes. There is a long list of other substances and chemicals that could be in your workplace, like hazardous paints, cleaners, and acids. Depending on your work environment, there might even be more uncommon substances like cadmium, mercury, cadmium, and silica. In any situation, it is up to your employer to take reasonable steps to protect you from dangerous levels of exposure.
Does Workers’ Comp Cover Toxic Exposure?
Workers’ compensation should provide benefits to any qualifying employee who becomes injured or falls ill due to a hazard related to their occupation or that was in their workplace. While workers’ comp is often associated with serious accidents made by a single mistake, it also applies when considering illnesses that worsen gradually with time due to repeated toxic exposure.
If you think you have been exposed to dangerous levels of toxic substances in the course of your employment, you should:
- Report the possible exposure to your employer as soon as possible.
- See a medical provider the same day as your report for a check-up.
- Tell the physician as much as you can about the substance in question.
- Talk to an attorney once your check-up is completed.
Why You Should Get a Lawyer for a Toxic Exposure Claim
As a no-fault system, workers’ compensation is meant to provide benefits to an injured or ill employee, regardless of why that employee was hurt. However, insurance companies still have the right to refute claims and demand to see proof that backs what the claimant is saying. For this reason, securing the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney for your toxic exposure claim is highly recommended.
A lawyer can prepare your claim for anything the opposition might throw at it by collecting ample evidence of your workplace exposure and how it can be linked to your health conditions. If the insurance company or your employer wants to make your life more difficult by denying your claim, then you will be ready to react with your attorney.
Workers in Atlanta, Georgia can call (770) 629-9321 to speak with an attorney from The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC. We focus our practice on difficult workers’ compensation cases just like your toxic exposure claim. Let’s start with a free evaluation today.