While many people consider a work injury the result of a single accident such as a slip-and-fall or pinching a body part in heavy machinery, this is not always the case. Certain occupations have work responsibilities that could lead to repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, several workers in numerous occupations face exposure to toxic materials.
Toxic material exposure could lead to life-threatening conditions such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, silicosis, skin disease, occupational asthma or lung cancer. Unfortunately, a recently released data set highlighted numerous occupations that were at greater risk for exposure than others. In specific, these industries account for nearly 90% of all potentially harmful materials and waste products:
- Occupations centering on chemical manufacturing: Workers must take care when handling any type of chemical. If the workers improperly store or mix chemicals, even a material classified safe might become toxic or explosive. Chemical production facilities that utilize materials such as ethylene oxide or formaldehyde present significant hazards to employees.
- Metal production and fabrication facilities: Processes involving metal production or fabrication often either rely on chemicals to enhance the process or create toxic materials as a by-product. Workers face catastrophic exposure to materials such as cadmium, toluene and methylene chloride.
- Petroleum processing plants: The petroleum processing industry fills a significant need worldwide. Unfortunately, workers will struggle through exposure to benzene, hydrogen sulfide and “produced water” which can contain numerous toxins in dangerous concentrations.
Toxic exposure can take numerous forms including inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. Even when workers adhere to all safety precautions, individuals could still face deadly exposure. If you work in an at-risk occupation or fear you were exposed, it is wise to seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Depending on numerous factors, you could be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits based on your injuries or the conditions you currently face.