Philadelphia Poisoning + Chemical Exposure at Work Lawyer
Employees who handle or work around toxic substances, such as custodial and hospital workers, can suffer serious workplace injuries due to chemical exposure. Some of these injuries are immediately obvious, such as chemical burns, while others take months or years to develop. Unfortunately, chemical work injuries can occur even if the worker takes protective measures to avoid exposure, such as wearing a gas mask or a hazmat suit. If you or a family member has been injured at work in Pennsylvania from exposure to toxic chemicals, you should consult with a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your options for filing a claim and pursuing benefits.
The workplace injury attorneys of Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias can fight for compensation if you were hurt on the job in Philadelphia. We have dedicated ourselves to helping residents of Philadelphia and Southeast Pennsylvania obtain the benefits they deserve for their injuries. We have litigated numerous workman’s compensation cases and are ready to put proven legal strategies to work on your claim. To schedule a free consultation about a chemical injury in Philadelphia, call (484) 679-5239 or contact our law offices online.
Work Injuries Caused by Chemical Exposure
Chemical hazards and toxic substances can inflict an array of serious health hazards. Toxic chemicals are frequently used in all types of work environments, ranging from schools to hospitals, which heightens the risk of serious harm to part-time and full-time employees. For example, a mechanic may develop Reactive Airway Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS) following exposure to car exhaust fumes or chemical fumes.
Chemical and Toxic Substances Can Cause Severe Injury if:
- The substances come into contact with a worker’s skin
- The worker inhales or swallows a dangerous substance
While some workers may slowly develop symptoms from long-term exposure to chemical substances, other injuries like chemical burns may occur immediately, often due to ingestion or direct contact. Long-term or brief exposure to toxic substances can cause catastrophic injuries, fatal injuries, or serious occupational illnesses, such as:
- Aplastic anemia
- Chemical burns and permanent scarring
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Lung disease
- Parkinson’s disease
It is critical to seek prompt medical treatment if you have been exposed to a dangerous chemical or if you have noticed the development of any unusual symptoms. Depending on which substance you were exposed to and how severe the accident was, the symptoms and effects of chemical exposure could potentially include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Seizures or convulsions
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
What Chemicals are Dangerous to Work with?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the optimal method for preventing workplace chemical injuries is to control employee exposure to harmful substances. OSHA suggests various ways to limit exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace, such as:
- Adjusting work rotations to avoid employees being frequently exposed to chemicals
- Changing processes to reduce instances of contact with chemicals
- Developing “wet methods” to reduce the generation of dust and other particles
- Increasing ventilation in areas with the heavy chemical use
- Substituting certain chemicals with safer alternatives
- Using protective clothing that offers respiratory, skin, and eye protection
Unfortunately, even when employees and employers follow preventative measures to reduce the risk of injury, devastating industrial accidents and chemical spills can still occur. Injuries are especially likely to result from the following chemicals, which have been deemed highly hazardous:
- Chlorine dioxide
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sodium dioxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Sulfuric acid
These chemicals and many others should be treated with extreme care when used in the workplace.
Injuries Caused by Exposure to Mercury in the Workplace
In response to employee complaints about mercury exposure and a lack of protective safety equipment from their employer, OSHA investigators found that numerous employees showed symptoms of mercury poisoning after working to remove contaminated soil, wood, and liquid from a Superfund site in Schenectady. The workers were not provided with protective safety equipment to limit their exposure to the hazardous material and were suffering from fever, fatigue, memory loss, tremors, neurological impairment, and damage to their skin and gums. Officials believe the workers were poisoned after breathing in mercury vapors and having liquid mercury penetrate their skin.
The violations imposed upon Environmental Remediation Services included failure to provide adequate ventilation, reorganizing work schedules to reduce the levels of exposure to employees, and refusal to perform exposure monitoring to determine if mercury levels were present. The company was also cited for not informing their employees of the potential danger and exposure to the toxic material, or providing them with proper safety training to avoid unnecessary exposure to the mercury. ERS also failed to provide and monitor protective respiratory protection equipment.
Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning
Short term exposure to mercury can produce symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increased blood pressure or heart rate, headache, and vision problems. Long term exposure to mercury can cause more serious conditions such as anxiety, anorexia, insomnia, weight loss, irritability, fatigue, and hearing loss. It is vital to seek medical attention if you believe you have been exposed to mercury. Even small amounts of mercury can produce enough vapors to be inhaled into the lungs, and can be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn fetus, or into infants through breast milk.
Blood and urine tests can determine if you have been exposed to mercury, and to what level you have been exposed. Once confirmed, drugs can be prescribed that will remove the mercury from your body.
How to Get Workers’ Compensation for Chemical Exposure Injuries in Pennsylvania
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently fined a New York hazardous materials remediation contractor $142,000 for willfully exposing their employees to toxic levels of mercury. OSHA has cited Environmental Remediation Services, Inc. (ERS) with 14 citations for willful and serious violations of their workplace safety and health standards.
Suffering a work-related injury, including a chemical injury, may qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. In addition to partially replacing your lost wages, workman’s compensation can also pay for “reasonable” medical care, such as:
- Prescription medication
- Prosthetic limbs and other medical devices
- Rehabilitative therapy
If you are injured at work in Philadelphia, you should seek medical attention and notify your employer immediately. Waiting too long to inform an employer of your injuries may prevent you from qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits, even if your injuries are serious.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your claim will be accepted. However, if your employer or the insurance company denies your workers’ compensation claim, the Philadelphia workplace chemical injury lawyers at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias can challenge the denial in pursuit of the benefits you deserve. We can also intervene if your employer:
- Attempts to fire you or retaliate against you for reporting a workplace chemical accident
- Attempts to have your benefits reduced, suspended, or terminated (cut off)
- Failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage
Our Philadelphia Workplace Chemical Accident Attorneys Can Help with Your Claim
If you, your spouse, or a family member was seriously injured by toxic substances at work, you should consult with a Philadelphia workman’s compensation attorney as soon as possible. The work injury lawyers of Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias will work tirelessly to obtain compensation, protecting your rights and educating you about your legal options throughout the claims process. Our attorneys have handled numerous workplace injury claims in Philadelphia and are prepared to provide the aggressive representation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, contact Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias online, or call us today at (484) 679-5239.