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Workers Compensation Claims for Chemical Exposure Injuries

Workers in many industries have to handle chemicals such as cleaning agents and acids as a part of their job.

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Exposure to some of these chemicals can cause injuries and even death. More than 10 percent of the occupational deaths are attributed to environmental and chemical exposure. It is the duty of all employers to provide a safe working environment to the employees and protect them from chemical exposure.

Chemical Exposure Injuries

Direct contact with chemicals account for almost 94 percent of the work related chemical injuries. These injuries are caused by inhalation, ingestion or skin exposure. The rest of the chemical injuries are caused by incidental chemical exposure from contact with equipment or from accidents. Chemical exposure can affect various body parts depending on how the exposure has occurred. Here are the most commonly affected body parts:

Eyes – A study conducted by OSHA and bureau of labor statistics revealed that as many as 30 percent of the work related injuries were to the eyes. Chemical exposure can cause mainly three types of eye injuries, and the most serious among them are the alkali burns that cause serious damage to the external and internal areas of the eyes. Another serious eye injury is caused by acid burns, but it affects only the external part of the eye. The third common type of chemical exposure related eye injury is caused by the irritants. Even though they do not cause permanent damage, but they do cause significant discomfort.

Upper extremities – The torso, hands and arms are at a high risk of chemical exposure related injuries. These injuries often occur to workers who handle chemicals as a part of their job.

Body systems – If the worker ingests or inhales chemicals at the workplace, it can cause harm to almost all body functions. The extent of injury depends on the chemical ingested or inhaled. Chemical exposure can cause serious and lifelong effects on body systems including renal, respiratory, immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. Exposure to a chemical known as asbestos can cause a life threatening form of cancer called mesothelioma.

Chemical exposure can affect any part of the body, and may have a slow and gradual effect on the body systems. Prolonged and continuous exposure can cause lifelong disability, organ dysfunction, and various types of cancer. It may take years for the worker to experience any symptoms of damage caused by chemical exposure.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has provided strict regulations regarding chemical handling at workplaces. Failure to adhere to the safety regulations provided by OSHA can invite strict penalty for the employer, and he/she may be held liable for any resulting injuries.

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