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Does Workers’ Comp Cover Toxic Chemical Exposure?

  • Published: May 20, 2023

It’s the role of managers and supervisors to make sure that chemical substances, industrial solvents, and toxic formulas are labeled, handled, and stored properly and carefully and to government safety standards. When there’s room for slip-ups and carelessness, employees can be exposed to toxic chemicals and suffer severe injuries.

If this occurs and the employer or the company’s insurance company refuses to provide workers’ compensation, the employee has the right to file a lawsuit for toxic exposure in order to seek justice and compensation. If you find yourself in a situation like this, it’s best to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your rights and options.

Toxic Chemical Exposure at Work 

There are around 650,000 current chemical products in workplaces around the U.S., based on estimates by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To keep workers protected from chemical exposure health effects, OSHA implements permissible exposure limits (PELs) on the concentration and amount of a chemical in the air. Each year, hundreds of new toxic chemicals are introduced, and PELs only cover a small percentage of them, making chemical exposure a serious hazard to workers working on construction sites, shipyards, manufacturing plants, and other places that have workers that use chemicals.

The OSHA issued the Hazard Communication Standard that states employers have the responsibility to identify and list hazardous workplace chemicals and the risks associated with chemical exposure. Workers should engage in OSHA training and other education programs provided by their employers to learn effective ways of protecting themselves from these hazards.

California Employers’ Duty to Keep Employees Protected From Toxic Chemical Exposure 

Workers anywhere can be exposed to toxic chemicals and the hazardous effects they can bring on. That said, certain professions carry a higher risk for toxic chemical exposure than others. Top workplaces that have a higher risk of toxic chemical exposure include:

  • Dry cleaners
  • Machine shops
  • Automotive repair shops
  • Metalwork or welding industries
  • Construction renovation or demolition, especially of older structures that could contain lead paint or asbestos

Toxic chemical exposure can affect any employee in a shop and not just employees working on the shop floor who come in direct contact with toxic solvents, chemicals, or metals. Even employees who work in an office can be affected if they work in a building that houses industrial cleaners or chemicals, or if there’s water damage that has generated mold that hasn’t been remediated.

Employers have the duty to provide their employees with the necessary safety equipment as applicable, such as:

  • Protective eyewear
  • Gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Respirators

Workplaces might also need to provide eye wash stations or shower facilities to deal with emergency exposures to hazardous chemicals or substances along with proper ventilation in all workspaces affected. All relevant workers should receive training in safety practices surrounding toxic chemical substances on site. Employers should also rotate workers often to avoid lengthy exposure to any one worker.

Can You Receive Workers’ Comp in California for Toxic Chemical Exposure? 

If you’ve sustained an injury that stems from toxic chemical exposure in your workplace, you might be able to get workers’ comp. In California, all workers have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits for work-related illnesses or injuries. Additionally, employers have the legal responsibility to provide workers’ comp insurance for all their workers. 

Because workers’ comp benefits are designed to cover work-related illness or injuries, most forms and types of chemical exposure should be covered. This is essential to know, particularly for employees who work with toxic substances and materials daily. This is put in place to ensure the health of employees and to offer assistance to those workers who endure anything unfortunate in the workplace.

A “no-fault” system applies to workers’ compensation, meaning you don’t have to prove that your employer did any wrongdoing for the incident to occur. In this situation, you have to prove that you were injured due to coming into contact with or handling chemicals in the workplace. In addition, if your place of work has the proper procedures and precautions in place when working with or handling dangerous chemicals, you can still receive workers’ comp if you are injured or have developed an illness.

Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits 

With workers’ comp benefits, you might receive specific benefits depending on your circumstances. If you’ve been approved for workers’ comp, the insurance will determine what’s required to treat your condition or injury. There are several types of workers’ comp benefits, including:

  • Temporary disability benefits (TD)
  • Medical coverage
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB)
  • Permanent disability benefits (PD)

Under workers’ comp, the benefits you get will depend on how serious your condition or injury is and what required treatments should be covered, including coverage for costs associated with doctor visits and treatments.

Also, if you’ve sustained a serious condition or injury that keeps you from working, you might qualify for temporary or permanent disability benefits. Again, this will depend on how severe your injury or condition is. Under these benefits, you might also qualify for monthly payments that can help cover a percentage of your lost earnings due to your condition or injury.

If you have received or are receiving workers’ comp benefits because of an illness or injury due to toxic chemical exposure, then it’s essential to keep in contact with your doctor/healthcare provider, employer, and claims administrator. This helps ensure your treatments remain covered under the benefits. It will also be determined when you can go back to work, or if you require any work modification to make your job easier. Your health should always be your top priority. By staying in contact, you’ll ensure a quicker recovery and a smoother transition back to work.

Call the Skilled California Workers’ Comp Lawyers at KCNS Law Group Today 

Employees in California who suffer injuries or illnesses from exposure to hazardous chemicals will likely qualify for workers’ compensation. Some injured employees use the services of experienced workers’ comp lawyers like at KCNS Law Group. We have the experience and knowledge to deal with the state-regulated insurance system. By seeking the help of legal representation to assist with filing for benefits, you can focus on recovering and getting back to work.

To receive help in filing for workers’ compensation after toxic chemical exposure in the workplace in California, call KCNS Law Group at (818) 937-9255 or complete our contact form for a free consultation with a knowledgeable, experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

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