Toxic exposure is a serious health concern for workers in various industries, not necessarily just those who work in construction. There are all sorts of hazardous substances that can be hidden within building materials for residential, commercial, and industrial properties alike. Not to mention that cleaning supplies used in all types of properties can contain dangerous chemicals.
When a worker is exposed repeatedly to a hazardous substance, or exposed to the substance to a significant degree, the result can be the development of serious illnesses and health concerns. If a worker’s illness can be traced back to toxic exposure in the workplace, then a workers’ compensation claim will be in order. What sort of hazardous materials are out there in the average workplace, though?
There are three dangerous substances found commonly in various workspaces:
- Asbestos: For decades, asbestos was used in all sorts of building materials, including insulation. The substance's low cost paired with its strong insulating qualities made it a favorite for home construction projects across the nation. However, asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer believed to be caused solely by inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers. Once the dangers of asbestos and mesothelioma became clear, construction companies stopped using it in residential properties – but it was never fully banned from all construction projects! Many commercial and industrial structures to this day are built with asbestos insulation, meaning you could be working in an office with it and not know it.
- Lead: Another material that has grown out of favor once its dangers became known is lead. Going back a few decades, you could probably take a paint can off any shelf and find that it contained lead. Or you might be able to check most any building’s schematic and discover that the plumbing system uses lead pipes. The danger with lead is that exposure to it, especially when ingested, can cause various forms of cancers and chronic illnesses. However, just like with asbestos, lead has not been banned outright for use in construction and certain industrial purposes. People who work in construction, manufacturing, and other related sectors could be exposed to lead on a regular basis.
- Benzene: Groups like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) having only uncovered the dangers of benzene exposure — namely a heightened risk of lymphoma and leukemia — somewhat recently when compared to substances like lead and asbestos. Benzene might sound like an unfamiliar name, but it is certainly not a material you are completely unfamiliar with. Various types of rubbers, plastics, insulations, and pesticides all use benzene. Construction crews using benzene insulation, workers who manufacture benzene-based rubbers and plastics, and groundskeepers or agriculture workers who use pesticides as part of a daily routine can all be at risk of an unsafe level of benzene exposure.
Did You Encounter a Toxic Material at Work?
Even if you are provided ample training and protective gear, exposure to a dangerous substance like asbestos, benzene, or lead in your workplace can have drastic health consequences. If you become ill due to toxic exposure in the course of your employment, then you can seek workers’ comp benefits and possibly disability pay. Be mindful that an insurer or your employer might try to say that you do not have a claim because you were given a warning of the dangers. As a no-fault system, workers’ compensation programs allow you to receive benefits regardless of who caused your toxic exposure and regardless of your knowledge of the possible side effects and hazards.
If you need to file a toxic exposure claim in Orange County, California, and you are worried that your claim might not resolve in your favor, pick up the phone and dial (800) 980-6905 right away. Our workers’ comp lawyers from Alvandi Law Group, P.C. would be happy to explain your rights and options during a free consultation. Remember: At Alvandi Law Group, workers’ compensation is all we do!