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Toxic workplace: hazardous chemical exposures

No matter what industry you work in, you want to be confident that your safety is a priority. Exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace can cause lasting harm that negatively affects the quality of your life.

Recognizing the signs associated with chemical exposure and taking appropriate action can save your life and the lives of your co-workers.

Common substances

Depending on your workplace, your exposure could include a variety of chemicals, such as:

  • Heavy metals
  • Solvents
  • Disinfectants
  • Paints
  • Acids and bases
  • Pesticides

Your workplace should have the proper safeguards in place to protect employees. When that is not the case and workers suffer harm, you and other affected staff members can file a workers’ compensation claim to cover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages.

Symptoms

Whether something poses a health risk can depend on the concentration of the chemical and the length of the exposure time. Your symptoms may be temporary and mild, such as headaches or light nausea. More severe symptoms include chemical burns or disorders of the liver or kidney.

Consequences

According to the Mississippi Occupational Heal and Safety Surveillance Report, millions of workers face the risk of pneumoconiosis, while thousands of others suffer from chemical burns. Recovering from surgeries, injuries or weakness can render you unable to care for yourself. Loved ones may need to assist you with everyday activities, such as bathing or eating.

Women who are pregnant or nursing may pass on toxic chemicals to their children. This can result in congenital disabilities or developmental delays.

Only properly trained professionals should handle hazardous chemicals. Minimizing the risks can help protect everyone in the workplace.

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