Workers who are exposed to chemical fume hazards at work may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits under certain circumstances.
To be eligible, an employee must have worked in a job that posed a risk of exposure to chemical fumes, and the employee must have contracted a specific illness during or after this employment. Mental depression does not qualify as an occupational disease.
The illness must have been contracted either in the course of employment or as a result of exposure to chemical fumes in the workplace. The employee does not need to show that he or she was exposed to a specific concentration of chemicals in order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Exposure is judged on the job conditions and potential hazards. Exposure to chemicals at the workplace can be from fumes, dust, or vapors.
The source of exposure must have been work-related and specifically not from personal activities outside of work hours. If a worker is exposed to chemicals on a job but does not get ill until after hours, he or she may be eligible for benefits only if it was likely, given the normal progression of the disease and duration of exposure to the chemicals, that he would have become ill had he not been exposed to those chemicals after hours.
The employee must have contracted an occupational disease where there is a close relationship between his or her employment and its connection with the onset of illness.
A Las Vegas chemical burn & fume injury lawyer handles workers’ compensation claims for those exposed to harmful chemicals on the job. Our skilled construction accident attorneys assert that if an employee is exposed to chemicals on the job, he or she should have workers’ compensation benefits extended to them and their families in the event they demonstrate symptoms of illness like cancer, leukemia, and other potentially fatal diseases.
Dangers Associated With Chemical Burns & Fumes
A chemical fume is a type of pollutant that forms when chemicals are heated or burned. The fumes produced depend on the substance being burned but can include gases, smoke, and liquid particles.
Chemical fumes may result from cooking food at high temperatures, burning wood in a fireplace, smoking cigarettes, operating certain types of industrial machinery, blasting rock with explosives, and the combustion of motor vehicle engines (exhaust fumes).
Fumes can also be produced by some pesticides and by the use of certain consumer products, such as hair sprays.
Due to its high level of toxicity, exposure to chemical fumes should be avoided at all costs, especially in a work setting.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for setting and enforcing occupational safety and health standards in the U.S. The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research on workplace hazards, including chemical fumes.
Family members who are not employed but spend a lot of time with an individual who is exposed to chemical fumes, such as working in a vehicle repair garage or operating heavy machinery, may also be at risk for exposure.
Treatment for chemical fume-related illness varies depending on the type of fumes involved; however, the underlying principle behind all treatment methods is to remove the fumes from the body. Treatment options include:
- Removing the patient from the fumes (for example, moving them to a different work setting)
- Inhaling certain gases that bind with and remove toxins in the body (specifically, carbon monoxide or helium)
- Administering drugs that enhance toxin removal by the liver (such as N-acetyl cysteine)
- Administering certain drugs to reduce inflammation and pain (for example, steroids or NSAIDs), depending on the cause of the patient’s symptoms
Persons exposed to low levels of fumes may experience short-term effects such as eye irritation; throat, nose, and lung discomfort; nausea; and lightheadedness. More severe symptoms may include fever, chest pain, weakness, dizziness, headache, and rapid heartbeat.
Laboratory testing can help confirm exposure to chemical fumes if a patient’s symptoms do not appear to be related to any other specific medical condition. Tests used for this purpose include:
- Blood tests and urinalysis
- Chest X-ray
- Urine tests
Symptoms lasting more than a few days may be due to chronic exposure to chemical fumes. Chronic symptoms include long-term fatigue, weight loss, joint pain, muscle wasting and weakness, shortness of breath with exercise, and heart palpitations.
Experts recommend that employers keep worker exposures to chemicals below the PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit) set by OSHA, a level that is based on the prevention of adverse health effects in most workers. Contact a knowledgeable chemical burn & fume injury lawyer in Las Vegas for more information.
Reach Out to a Las Vegas Chemical Burn & Fume Injury Attorney
If you have been injured while on the job, you have a right to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact a Las Vegas chemical burn & fume injury lawyer at Shook & Stone today.