Many occupations require employees to handle or work around chemicals, fumes, fibers, or dust particles. These materials may be corrosive, caustic, flammable, or toxic. While some workers are protected by suits, ventilators, and other pieces of specialized equipment, others are forced to work in risky or unsafe conditions. In other cases, employees may be totally unaware that chemical exposure has occurred until injuries or disease symptoms start to appear. In either situation, workers’ compensation benefits may be available to a Pennsylvania worker who gets injured, becomes sick, or experiences a worsening of an existing injury or condition due to chemical exposure in the workplace.
If you, your spouse, or your adult son or daughter suffered chemical burns, respiratory illnesses, or other injuries caused by work-related chemical exposure, turn to the Delaware County workers’ compensation lawyers of Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias for legal help. Whether you need assistance filing a workers’ compensation claim, appealing a denied claim, or challenging the improper suspension or termination of your benefits, our trusted legal team has over 60 years of combined experience helping Pennsylvanians get compensated for work injuries and occupational diseases. We also provide representation for the spouses and family members of workers who were killed in fatal chemical accidents.
Our workplace chemical injury lawyers handle workers’ compensation claims throughout Delaware County, PA. For a free consultation about how we can help with your matter, call the law offices of Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias at (484) 679-5239 today.
Can You Get Workers’ Comp for Exposure to Chemicals or Toxins in PA?
In most cases, the answer to this question is yes. Unless you intentionally inflicted your own injury, were injured because you were intoxicated, or belong to a profession that is excluded from the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, your employer is likely required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Professions excluded from the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act generally include railroad workers, domestic workers, agricultural laborers, shipyard workers, and civilian employees of the federal government. However, members of these professions are protected under other pieces of legislation.
As soon as you are able to do so safely, you must report your injury to your employer, including:
- The date when you were injured.
- The location where the accident occurred.
Once you have notified your employer of the injury, your employer assumes responsibility for informing the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation of the accident. You may begin receiving benefits once you have been disabled for more than seven calendar days. However, if your claim is denied, it may be necessary to initiate the appeals process.
Various types of workers’ compensation benefits may be available, depending on the nature and impacts of the injury, including:
- Medical care benefits, which are meant for “reasonable surgical and medical services rendered by a physician or other health care provider.”
- Wage-loss benefits, which are meant for lost earnings caused by total disability or partial disability.
- Specific loss benefits, which are meant for workers who permanently lose partial or total use of a thumb, finger, toe, hand, foot, arm, leg, eye (vision loss), or ear (hearing loss). Extensive and permanent disfigurement of the neck, face, or head – for example, disfigurement caused by chemical burns – may also entitle a worker to specific loss benefits.
- Death benefits, which are available to the dependents of a worker who is fatally exposed to chemicals.
Dangerous Chemicals in the Workplace
Workers in certain occupations or industries are more likely to be exposed to hazardous chemicals than others. Common examples include:
- Construction workers
- Employees who work with nylon, hemp, cotton, or flax
- Film laboratory technicians
- Hospital workers
- Janitors and custodians
- Maintenance workers
- Medical researchers
- Photographic developers and darkroom technicians
Unfortunately, many of the chemicals used in these and other professions can be extremely dangerous if improperly handled, stored, or transported, or if combined with other substances, such as oxygen. Other chemicals are dangerous simply to touch or inhale, even in miniscule quantities. Examples of hazardous chemicals include:
- Carbon monoxide
- Hydrogen bromide
- Hydrogen chloride
- Hydrogen cyanide
- Nitric acid
- Nitric oxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Silica dust
- Sodium cyanide
Exposure to these substances can produce an array of painful, disabling, and in some cases, fatal symptoms or injuries. In some cases, such as chemical burns caused by bases or acids, the injury is obvious and immediate. In other cases, such as silicosis caused by exposure to silica dust, or berylliosis caused by exposure to beryllium, a disease develops gradually and without the victim’s knowledge. Additionally, pregnant workers are at elevated risk as many chemicals can damage a developing fetus, leading to serious congenital defects or spontaneous abortion (miscarriage).
Depending on the substance involved, the quantity of the substance, and the manner by which the employee came into contact with the substance, potential acute or long-term effects of chemical exposure could include:
- Bronchiolitis obliterans (“popcorn lung”)
- Birth defects
- Cancer and mesothelioma
- Chemical burns
- Eye irritation or vision loss
- Hair loss
- Nerve damage or loss of sensation
- Organ damage or organ failure
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Skin irritation
Delaware County Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for Chemical Injury Claims
If workplace chemical exposure caused you or one of your loved ones to sustain an injury, develop an illness, or suffer the aggravation of an existing injury or illness, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which can provide financial security while you are unable to work due to disability or impairment. Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias can help you secure the benefits that you are entitled to receive.
The workplace chemical accident lawyers of Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias handle workers’ comp claims throughout Delaware County, including Aldan, Ardmore, Boothwyn, Brookhaven, Broomall, Chester, Clifton Heights, Collingdale, Colwyn, Darby, Drexel Hill, Eddystone, Folcroft, Folsom, Glenolden, Lansdowne, Lima, Linwood, Marcus Hook, Media, Morton, Norwood, Parkside, Prospect Park, Ridley Park, Sharon Hill, Swarthmore, Trainer, Upland, Woodlyn, Yeadon, and other communities in the area. For a free legal consultation about workers’ compensation in Delaware County for injuries or death caused by toxic fumes, call our law offices right away at (484) 679-5239.