Toxic Substances and Workers’ Compensation
When most people think of a workers’ compensation claim they imagine an accident that causes an immediate physical injury to the worker. While such accidents account for most workers’ compensation claims, another danger in the workplace also can cause serious injuries to workers – toxic substances. Each day, millions of workers are exposed to a wide variety of toxic substances in the workplace, many of which can cause serious, long-term illness. Although occupational illnesses represent only about five percent of all occupational injuries and illnesses in the workplace each year, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an illness caused by exposure to a toxic chemical can be life-threatening.Who is at Risk for Toxic Substance Exposure?
Any type of occupation could put a worker at risk for exposure to toxic chemicals; however, some jobs that carry increased risks, including:
- Custodians—Custodians, janitors and cleaning people are some of the lowest-paid workers in the country, yet they often face the highest risk of exposure to caustic chemicals. One study showed that six of every 100 custodians have a lost-time injury each year as a result of exposure to a toxic chemical or substance.
- Cashiers and clerks—Cashiers and clerks typically handle thousands of register receipts over the course of a year without knowing that many of those are coated with a potentially harmful substance known as BPA (bisphenol-A).
- Salon workers—Hairdressers, nail artists and anyone else working in a salon or spa is exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis that could cause respiratory problems, skin allergies or even endocrine system problems.
- Construction workers—Construction workers may inadvertently come into contact with toxic substances when demolishing, repairing or renovating old buildings. Asbestos and lead paint, for example, are commonly found in older buildings or homes and can cause serious problems if inhaled or if a worker comes into direct contact with the substance.
Injuries caused by exposure to a toxic substance in the workplace are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits; however, they are often harder to prove than other types of workplace injuries. Because the damage done by a toxic chemical may take days, months or even years to show symptoms, getting a claim approved for workers’ compensation can sometimes be problematic. An employer may contend that the damage was pre-existing or that you cannot prove that your injuries were caused by exposure to a toxic substance on the job.
If you have been injured in the workplace in Massachusetts and you believe that the cause of your injuries was exposure to toxic substances, the Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., may be able to help. Out Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced in these types of claims and are available to review your claim and help you decide what your next move should be. If you would like to know what legal options you have for a work-related injury, we can be reached by calling 800-367-0871 or by using our online contact form.