Toxic substances are present in almost any work environment in some form. When these dangerous substances are not handled properly or safely disposed of, however, they can present a significant hazard to anyone who is exposed to them.
If you have sustained an injury or illness from exposure to toxic substances at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your exposure-related costs. To learn more about how you can take the first step in pursuing the workers’ compensation benefits that you need, contact the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation lawyers of Robert Wilson & Associates at 612-334-3444.
What is Toxic Exposure in the Workplace?
Toxic exposure in the workplace happens when an employee comes into contact with any substance that can cause harm or injury to an individual. Contact may include touching, ingesting, or inhaling the harmful substance. This exposure results in a negative effect, either immediately after exposure or after chronic, long-term exposure.
Most people think of toxic exposure in the workplace as a giant chemical spill in a factory or a fire igniting in a warehouse spewing dangerous fumes into the air to be inhaled. While these are examples of toxic exposure, exposure can also happen in schools, gyms, funeral homes, construction sites, and other seemingly innocuous workplace settings.
Toxic substances can be found in cleaning solutions and chemicals, building materials, and other products that workers may use or have access to on an almost daily basis. Some of the most toxic materials responsible for injuring workers include:
- Ethylene oxide
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Methylene chloride
- Heavy metals
Symptoms of Toxic Exposure
Being exposed to toxins can impact the body in a variety of ways. Being exposed to certain chemicals and toxins can result in an immediate and acute response. This response may manifest as:
- Allergic reaction
- Skin irritation
- Respiratory issues (coughing, burning, choking)
- Upset stomach
- Vision problems
Chronic or long-term exposure to chemicals or toxins in a work environment can cause complex and significant health issues for workers. Long-term exposure may result in complex health problems that may impact an individual for the rest of their life. Some conditions may also prove to ultimately be fatal depending on the nature of the toxin and the length of exposure to it. Injuries and illnesses that may be linked to chronic toxic exposure in the workplace may include:
- Lung damage
- Sudden development of asthma, allergies, or breathing difficulties
- Organ damage
- Kidney disease
- Weak immune system
- Reproductive and fertility issues
- Trouble conceiving
- Low sperm count
- Developmental delays
- Mental or cognitive issues
- Nerve damage
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Toxic Exposure?
Workers’ compensation is a system designed to protect workers and provide compensation and benefits to employees injured on the job. If an employee is injured or becomes seriously ill because they were exposed to toxins in the workplace, they may qualify to receive benefits. However, just because an employee applies for benefits, that doesn’t mean they automatically receive them.
Toxic exposure claims, especially chronic exposure claims, can be very difficult to get approved. That’s because, in the case of some injuries and conditions, an employer can try to claim that the employee developed the issue from some other outside source and not the work environment. This limits their liability and, in some cases, can result in a worker’s benefits being denied.
If you have been exposed to toxins in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, time away from work, rehabilitation, and disability benefits. Without the help of an attorney fighting for you, an employer and insurer may reject your application and leave you with no way to pay your medical bills and related expenses. Talking to an experienced attorney is the best way to get valuable advice about your situation and how you can maximize your workers’ compensation benefits.
Toxic Substance Exposure Claims
Exposure to a toxic substance can be hazardous to your health or even deadly. Sadly, workers in many different industries are routinely exposed to chemicals and compounds that can have a temporary or permanent adverse effect on their health. Some industries that often require workers to handle or work around toxic substances include:
- Waste disposal
Employers are required to inform their workers of the presence of potentially dangerous substances and to provide proper training on how to safely handle and dispose of them. If you are exposed to a toxic substance while at work and are injured or fall ill, you may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. These benefits could provide financial coverage for your exposure-related costs, including medical bills, lost wages from time off work, and medical travel expenses, to name a few.
If you have suffered from exposure to a toxic substance at work, you need an experienced legal advocate to represent your claim and pursue the full workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. Contact the Minnesota toxic substance exposure attorneys of Robert Wilson & Associates at 612-334-3444 to discuss what we may be able to do for you.