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Toxic chemical exposure can lead to severe work injury

Workers in various industries in Pennsylvania are exposed to a myriad of toxic chemicals on a daily basis. The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates permissible exposure limits (PELs) of about 300 hazardous chemicals. However, those represent only a small percentage of toxic substances that can cause a work injury.

OSHA admits that many dangerous chemicals remain uncontrolled and that the protection directives of the regulated chemicals are outdated. This puts workers at an enormous disadvantage. OSHA encourages employers to protect workers from the hazards of toxic chemicals, even of they are not part of the regulated list.

As precautions, dangerous chemicals can be replaced by substitutes that are less hazardous. Whenever possible, workers must be isolated by appropriate barriers to prevent contact -- either by touch or inhalation. Proper ventilation may be successful if dangerous airborne substances are diluted by air that is not contaminated or if the contaminated air is removed. Limiting the time periods that workers are exposed may also limit adverse effects, and personal protective equipment such as masks, ventilators and protective clothing may offer an adequate level of protection.

After a work injury caused by dangerous toxic chemical exposure, medical expenses and lost income due to absence from work may be financially crippling. Fortunately, most Pennsylvania workers are entitled to pursue financial relief in the form of workers' compensation benefits. In the event of injuries causing disabilities, additional compensation may be awarded. To prove that such an injury was work-related may be difficult, and the assistance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney may be helpful.

Source: safety.blr.com, "5 strategies to protect workers from unwanted chemical exposure", May 4, 2015

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