Exposure to chemicals and harmful substances is one of the top ways that U.S. workers sustain non-fatal injuries. Workers in the manufacturing, construction and restaurant industries are among the many employees who may be exposed to harmful and hazardous chemicals such as ammonia, nitrates and even mercury.
Injuries may include damage to the respiratory system along with burns to the skin and eyes. Such an injury may lead to lengthy medical treatment, costly medical bills and the inability to work for a lengthy amount of time. This represents a time when an employee should swiftly seek workers’ compensation benefits.
Skin and eye burns, respiratory damage
The National Safety Council determined that exposure to harmful substances represented 4% of the roughly 880,000 work-related injuries that occurred in the U.S. in 2019. The total number was 36,840 injured workers exposed to harmful substances.
It ranked sixth among work-related injuries, behind overexertion and bodily reaction (31%); falls, slips and trips (27.5%); contact with objects and equipment (26%); transportation incidents (5.6%) and violence by people or animals (5%).
Those harmful substances may include chemicals, extreme temperatures and electricity. Injuries may include:
- Burns and scalds to the skin when handling harmful materials, requiring painful skin grafts. Burns to the eyes and cornea occur, too.
- Severe damage to the lungs from inhaling harmful chemicals, leading to potential long-term respiratory issues.
- Frostbite due to exposure to extremely cold temperatures, potentially leading to amputation.
People who work at chemical and paint manufacturers are susceptible to some of these medical issues. If you sustain such injuries, get immediate medical attention, inform your employer and seek workers’ compensation.
Also, understand that employers must take necessary precautionary measures to ensure worker safety. Companies must provide proper training as well as the right personal protective gear.