On-The-Job Injuries & Chemical Hazards in the Workplace
In just about any job or career field there is a chance for exposure to toxic chemicals. Chemical hazards may be found in building and cleaning supplies, in the manufacture of goods and products, as well as in machinery and materials you are using. While occasional exposure to low doses of toxins might have little impact on your health, prolonged exposure to significant amounts can result in occupational illness. If you are in a field that deals with chemical hazards in the workplace on a regular basis, the following outlines the procedures and practices your employer should be following to ensure your protection.
Regulation of Chemical Hazards in the Workplace
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers and business owners to take the proper precautions to protect workers against potentially hazardous substances they may encounter on the job. In fields that require employees to work in or near known toxins, such as exterminators, constructions workers, welders, and certain types of manufacturers, controlling the type and amount of exposure is crucial to worker safety. The following are OSHA recommended controls, which are based on a hierarchy of actions employers must follow:
- Eliminate hazards or substitute with less dangerous substances
- Change the process of how toxins are used or handled through engineering controls
- Use administrative and work practice controls, such as rotating job assignments and schedules to limit exposure
- Make sure personal protective equipment is provided, such as respirators, gloves, and eye protection
Eliminating or substituting toxins is always the first step, followed by engineering controls to eliminate processes that require exposing workers to harm. The remaining steps should only be followed when it is absolutely necessary for a specific toxin, chemical, or substance to be used.
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Personal Protection For Workers Dealing With Toxic Substances
When exposure to toxins is unavoidable, employers must provide the proper protections to ensure worker safety. Depending on the substance or chemical involved, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) groups personal protection and sanitation practices to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses into the following categories:
- Skin: Requires the need for protective clothing
- Eyes: Requires the need for goggles, shielded lenses, or other eye protection
- Wash Skin: Requires showers and/or sinks for washing when chemicals are spilled or before eating or leaving the facility
- Remove: Requires workers to remove any clothing that may have been contaminated before leaving the building
- Change: Requires routine changes of clothing before or after exposure
- Provide: Require eyewash stations or quick drench facilities
In addition to the above protective services, first aid practices should be posted and reviewed on a regular basis.
Contact A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you have been diagnosed with an injury or illness as the result of exposure to chemical hazards in the workplace, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm right away. Our South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney provides the professional legal representation you need to help you get compensation for the damages you suffer.