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Personal Injury Due to Hazardous Materials: More than Just a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Working with hazardous materials is dangerous work. That is precisely why the government issues strict facility standards related to safety and emergency preparedness. If you believe you have been exposed to dangerous chemicals in the course of your work, and particularly if you believe the exposure was the result of negligence on the part of your employer, you may have a case well worth pursuing. Your pain and suffering may, indeed be compensable. It is imperative to reach out to a personal injury lawyer today who can assist you throughout each step of your case.

What Types of Materials are Hazardous?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are several broad categories of hazardous materials, including carcinogens, irritants, highly toxic chemicals, corrosives, and chemicals which target organs. More specifically, OSHA has released a list of the most commonly released toxins. That list includes:

  • Ammonia;
  • Chlorine;
  • Hydrochloric acid;
  • Sulfuric acid;
  • Carbon monoxide.

What Safety Precautions Must Exist in the Workplace?

All facilities must operate to minimize the release of toxic substances into the air, soil, or surface water that could impact the environment or human health. Basic requirements include:

  • A 24-hour surveillance system on the active portion of the facility;
  • A barrier surrounding the active portion of the facility;
  • A method of controlling entry into sensitive areas of the facility;
  • Signs indicating “Danger—Unauthorized Personnel Keep Out” displayed prominently in English and any other language(s) spoken predominantly in the facility.
  • An alarm system or internal communications system that provides emergency instructions to personnel;
  • Agreements with first responders outlining facility layout, employee locations, and specific materials on site;
  • An on-site or on-call emergency coordinator;
  • Clear labeling of hazardous materials;
  • Proper training to all employees regarding any hazardous materials on site.

What are Symptoms of Chemical Exposure?

Physical symptoms may occur immediately after a single exposure to toxic substances, or may not emerge until days, months, or even years after chronic exposure to low doses of hazardous materials. Classic reactions include nausea and dizziness, including vomiting and aspiration into the lungs. These symptoms may be accompanied by central nervous system afflictions such as headaches, confusion, and lack of consciousness. Sometimes the exposure will impact the skin and eyes, causing irritations, blistering, or a rash. In other circumstances, exposure may result in lung injury with corresponding breathing difficulties.

What are my Options if I Believe I’ve been Exposed to Hazardous Substances at Work?

If you have been injured due to exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries. While workers’ compensation typically limits damages to your medical costs and salary adjustments, you are entitled to be paid for your pain and suffering, lack of enjoyment in life, mental and emotional impacts and any scarring resulting from your injury. Under Florida law you have up to four years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Don’t go it alone. Get the accomplished and compassionate team of Barbas, Nunez,Sanders Butler & Hovsepian in Tampa working for you.

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