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Dealing with chemical hazards on the job

Injuries due to toxic chemicals can be either acute or chronic. In an acute injury, you experience the effects right away such as in a chemical spill. In a chronic injury, it could take a significant amount of time before you exhibit any symptoms of exposure such as in exposure to asbestos.

If you work around chemicals on a daily basis, you may already be aware of just how dangerous some of them can be to you. Even though your employer may take certain precautions in an attempt to limit your exposure or injury as a result of certain chemicals, accidents can still happen.

Assessing your risk of injury from exposure to a hazardous chemical

Several factors can affect your risk when exposed to a hazardous chemical. As you try to figure out your level of risk, it may help to consider the following:

  • Toxicity of the chemical: This may sound obvious, but the more toxic the chemical is, the higher your risk of injury. 
  • Interaction and reaction: Some chemicals may not have dangerous affects unless combined with other chemicals. Bleach and ammonia produce a chemical reaction much more dangerous than either chemical alone. The interaction of cigarette smoke and asbestos may increase the likelihood of contracting an asbestos-related illness. 
  • Route of exposure: Some chemicals can harm you regardless of how they enter your body, but others must enter through a specific manner in order to cause harm. For instance, asbestos only causes harm when inhaled. 
  • Duration of exposure: Short periods of exposure to a toxic chemical may not cause the same amount of harm as prolonged exposure would under the same circumstances. 
  • Amount: Small amounts of certain chemicals may not pose the same risk of harm as larger amounts would. For instance, using finger nail polish remover, which contains acetone, probably wouldn't cause any harm, but using large quantities of this industrial solvent could. 

Not everyone exposed to a toxic substance suffers harm, either. For example, if two people are exposed to asbestos, one may not suffer any adverse consequences while the other, who smokes cigarettes, could ultimately receive a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.

What happens if you suffer harm from exposure to a hazardous chemical?

If your exposure to a toxic chemical causes you to suffer injuries or an illness, you may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits to help with your medical and medical-related needs associated with your injury or illness. You may also receive benefits in connection with the loss of income you experience during your recovery. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to other benefits as well.

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817 East Landis Avenue
Vineland, New Jersey 08360

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Gruccio, Pepper, DeSanto & Ruth, PA