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How to Prove Toxic Chemical Exposure in a Workers’ Comp Claim

  • Published: May 10, 2023

Employees can sustain toxic chemical exposure injuries at any job. However, in certain industries, there’s a greater risk. Workers can be regularly exposed for a prolonged time and not even realize it until they become ill. While employers are responsible for ensuring a safe work environment, certain things are just out of their control. Employees who sustain injuries or become sick might find they’re eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation. In some situations, they may even be able to file an additional third-party lawsuit as well.

An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in California can help you prepare and file a workers’ comp benefits claim if you become injured or ill due to toxic chemical exposure in the workplace. This compensation can help pay for your medical care, lost wages, and more.

Toxic Exposure in the Workplace 

Things like accidental spills can cause toxic chemical exposure or occur gradually as employees ingest chemical particles, inhale hazardous fumes, or absorb the chemicals through their skin. Some common types of chemicals that employees might be exposed to include:

  • Asbestos
  • Arsenic
  • Diacetyl
  • Cadmium
  • Benzene
  • Chloroform
  • Formaldehyde
  • Silica
  • Ethylene oxide
  • Methylene chloride
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Mercury
  • Lead

If you’ve been exposed to any of these toxic chemicals and are looking to file a workers’ compensation claim, reach out to an experienced workers’ comp attorney in California today.

What Types of Toxic Exposure Injuries Can Result? 

Employees may be at risk for various types of toxic injuries, which depends on which industry they’re working in. When employees are exposed, they can suffer various serious occupational illnesses or injuries as a result. Some common industry-related toxic exposure risks are:

1. Aerospace Industry 

Employees in the aerospace industry have a risk of beryllium exposure. This chemical substance is a low-density metal that can place employees at risk of exposure if not handled properly. 

2. Farm or Grain Industry 

Farm employees risk inhaling bacteria and mold spores found in crops. Certain exposures can cause asthma-like attacks in some people. For other people, exposure can lead to a gradual onset of severe symptoms. Employees should seek immediate medical attention if they experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Burning sensation in the chest
  • Fatigue

Long-term exposure can result in permanent damage to the lungs or death.

3. Construction Work 

This industry has numerous toxic materials employees can be exposed to, which is why employers need to follow all requirements to ensure their employees stay safe.

4. Food Industry/Flavorings 

Food industry employees are at risk for thousands of chemicals that can cause disease. Diacetyl, the buttery flavoring used in microwave popcorn, is one of the most common chemicals and is known to cause bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung). It’s an irreversible lung disease.

5. Flax, Cotton, or Hemp Harvesting 

Long-term dust particle exposure to unprocessed flax, cotton, or hemp can result in permanent damage to the lungs or to byssinosis, a type of lung disease also known as “brown lung.”

6. Miners 

There are several toxic materials that miners can be exposed to on the job. Depending on which type of toxic substance they mine, these employees can inhale asbestos, silica, or other hazardous particles.

7. Welding 

Welders can be exposed to metallic substances and hazardous fumes when melting metal. Manganese, which is one of the higher risks, can result in tremors similar to those linked with Parkinson’s disease.

Employees in numerous other industries can be exposed to:

  • Paints
  • Textiles
  • Solvents
  • Noise
  • Insulation
  • And more

While pregnant, women exposed to hazardous chemicals can also be at risk of giving birth to a child with congenital disabilities.

What Should You Do if You’ve Been Exposed to Dangerous Toxins or Chemicals? 

If you’ve been exposed to dangerous toxins or chemicals in the workplace, and you’re looking to receive workers’ comp benefits, there are a few steps you should take. Your first step should be to seek medical care if needed.

Even when toxic chemical exposure isn’t that apparent, you could still seek a doctor’s expertise if you suspect you’ve been exposed to dangerous substances. They’ll let you know if you’ve developed a condition or injury because of toxins or chemicals in the workplace. Then your next steps will be to:

  • Let your manager or employer know about the chemical exposure
  • File for workers’ compensation
  • Receive adequate treatment for your condition or injury
  • Receive notification of your approval or denial

If you can, you should always let your manager and employer know about any illnesses or injuries that you’ve sustained in the workplace. If you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals, it’s imperative to notify them right away so they can decrease the chance of other workers being exposed and they can begin the workers’ comp process. Also, you’ll need to report your condition or injury within 30 days of the incident or from when you found out about your condition.

How Should You Pursue a Toxic Chemical Exposure Claim? 

If you sustained a work-related injury in a single event, it’s crucial that you immediately report the incident. If you’re brought to the emergency room, you’ll want to make your report as soon as you can—when your injury stabilizes. You’ll also want to gather the contact details of any credible witnesses or co-workers who saw the incident.

For work-related injuries due to long-term toxic chemical exposure, there are certain steps you’ll have to take, including:

  • Seek a thorough exam from a doctor with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of toxic chemical injuries
  • Notify your employer of your injury right after you’ve been diagnosed with the injury/condition
  • Keep an accurate and consistent work injury journal for documenting your diagnosed injury and how it progresses
  • Contact a skilled workers’ comp lawyer to avoid making any errors that might hurt your claim

An experienced attorney will help you collect evidence and build a compelling claim.

Contact the Reputable Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at KCNS Law Group in California Today 

If you’ve sustained an occupational injury or illness and believe it might be due to toxic chemical exposure, the experienced legal team here at KCNS Law Group is here to help.

At KCNS Law Group, we can discuss your legal options for compensation. Whether you’re looking to file a third-party lawsuit, a workers’ comp claim, or both, the reliable attorneys at KCNS have years of knowledge and experience and are ready to stand by your side and protect your rights. Call us today at (818) 937-9255 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free, no-risk consultation.

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