Workers’ Compensation for Toxic Chemical Exposure at Work in Colorado
Get the compensation you deserve if you’re exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace
Chemicals are everywhere in the workplace, whether you work from home, in the oil and gas industry, or in a factory. Unfortunately, those who are exposed to high concentrations of hazardous chemicals often don’t realize that they’ve suffered an injury until after the damage is already done.
Even worse is that they often don’t know they can get workers’ compensation benefits for their exposure-related injury.
Statistics on hazardous chemicals in the workplace
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 13 million workers in the U.S. who are exposed to harmful chemicals on a daily basis. These chemicals can easily be absorbed through the skin or lungs, and they can cause a variety of health problems.
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hazardous chemical exposure is one of the 5 most common causes of fatalities in the workplace.
About 10 percent of workers who suffer from exposure-related injuries or illnesses eventually die. This equates to approximately 60,000 workplace deaths every year. However, this number doesn’t include the estimated 860,000 workers who get sick because of toxic chemical exposure.
Dangerous chemicals commonly found in the workplace
Many Colorado workers aren’t fully aware of their rights when it comes to safety in the workplace. As an employee, you have the right to stay safe and healthy. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines that employers must follow to protect their employees from toxic chemical exposure.
Here in Colorado, some of the most common hazardous chemicals in the workplace are:
If you work with acids, then you deal with dangerous chemicals every day as well. Doctors, nurses and other health care workers employed at hospitals must stay on alert to avoid chemical exposure in the workplace. Similarly, restaurant workers can be exposed to harmful chemicals on the job, as can construction workers, farmers and other individuals in the agriculture industry.
How workers are exposed to dangerous chemicals
Hazardous chemicals can enter the body in many ways, but the most common method of exposure is inhalation.
You can also directly come into contact with toxic substances. When this occurs, it can penetrate your skin and immediately enter your bloodstream.
Some chemicals at work may accidentally be swallowed. They can easily contaminate food and drink without the worker knowing. When these chemicals enter the body, they can cause burns, rashes, injuries in the lungs and throat, and nerve damage.
Some workplace chemicals are carcinogenic, which means that repeated exposure in any form can lead to cancer.
Tips to prevent chemical exposure at work
It’s easy to overlook workplace safety if you have been doing your job for months or years. It all seems routine and standard, and it’s easy to let your guard down.
All Colorado employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers. Accidents can (and will) happen, but companies are required to take precautions to keep their staff safe from danger—and that includes taking precautions to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals.
Some of these steps include:
- Using skin-friendly substances over irritating ones;
- Implementing safety measures that reduce skin contact, including avoiding accidental splashes of chemicals on the skin;
- Rotating jobs among employees, thereby reducing intense exposure;
- Requiring the use of protective gear like masks, gloves and goggles; and,
- Putting workers in a well-ventilated area so that there’s a lower chance of breathing in toxic fumes.
Workers’ rights to compensation
If you believe you’re suffering from chemical exposure in the workplace, you should act quickly.
You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
However, before recovering any benefits, you will need to prove that you were exposed to chemicals and that the exposure resulted in your injury or illness. To ensure that you get the appropriate compensation, our Colorado work injury lawyers can help you do the following:
- Properly report the injury;
- Prove the relationship between your exposure and the resulting injury or illness;
- Investigate the workplace and interview the appropriate witnesses (if there are any);
- Establish care with an experienced and reputable workers’ compensation doctor; and,
- Obtain reimbursement for any loss of wages you are suffering as a result of your exposure.
If you or a loved one are suffering from exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace, talk to one of our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers as soon as possible. We can help you get full and fair compensation for your injury.