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Chemical exposure in the workplace can cause injuries and illness

Many people think the only hazards they must worry about objects, falls and poorly designed work equipment. Occupational hazards exist in all New Jersey work environments, including in offices, manufacturing warehouses and construction sites. One type of work hazard that often gets little notice until an adverse event occurs is chemical exposure. Chemicals are used in all work environments. 

OSHA requires employers to identify potential hazards and take measures to make the environment safer to prevent accidents, injuries and illnesses. It also mandates that employers take every reasonable measure to limit exposure to hazardous substances and chemicals. Workplace injuries and illnesses that occur due to chemical exposure are covered by workers’ compensation. Take some time to review the symptoms of chemical exposure to minimize the risk of you becoming ill or injured. 

Chemicals do not necessarily have to be in plain sight of workers for exposure to occur. For example, toxic substances like asbestos can become airborne. Asbestos was once widely used in the construction of many buildings. When the particles are disturbed, workers can end up inhaling them. Long-term exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances is often lethal. 

Depending on the type of hazardous substance in the workplace, symptoms may appear immediately upon exposure or take several weeks, months or years to occur. Common side effects employees may experience include: 

  • Eye irritation
  • Chemical burns
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fever 

It is important for you to pay attention to how you feel when you are at work. You should always report any health developments and symptoms that you experience at work to your employer and seek out appropriate medical attention. 

Proving a medical condition is the result of chemical exposure at the workplace is not easy. Documentation, medical records, worksite chemical documentation and complaints are some of the factors that are necessary. Workers who suffer injury or fall ill because of exposure to toxic substances at work may pursue workers’ compensation claims against their employers.

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