Industrial workers face more hazards on the job than those who work in office environments. One such hazard is the potential exposure to toxic materials. Below, we discuss three common toxic materials in the workplace and what employers can do to protect workers.
Asbestos is a silicate material that was commonly used in construction and engineering due to its insulating properties. However, when the toxicity of asbestos was discovered in the 1970s, the substance was strictly regulated. Yet, some older buildings may still contain asbestos.
Certain individuals are more likely to come into contact with asbestos, including industrial plant workers, construction workers, shipyard workers, and firefighters.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of mesothelioma, a rare yet deadly form of lung cancer.
Many workers employed in the agricultural field will be exposed to pesticides. Long-term exposure to pesticides has been linked to the development of cancer. Additionally, pesticides are extremely flammable and can pose a significant safety hazard in a plant when they are not managed properly.
#3. Heavy Metals
Industrial plants often process heavy metals or produce these substances as a byproduct. Workers can suffer from heavy metal poisoning when exposed to materials such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury. Systems in the human body most likely to be affected by heavy metal exposure are the respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, and reproductive systems.
How Can Employers Protect Workers from Toxic Materials?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide a “safe and hazard-free environment” for workers. This mandates that employers must identify and mitigate hazards—such as the leakage of toxic materials in the workplace—and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard workers against toxic exposure.
The failure to take either of these measures may make employers liable for any resulting workplace injuries or illnesses.
If you have been injured on the job, our Kansas City and Topeka personal injury attorneys are here to help. We have the experience and resources needed to help you recover the compensation you need for medical bills and lost wages.
Call DiPasquale Moore at (816) 888-7500 to schedule a free consultation.