Workplace exposure to airborne toxins and chemical fumes can wreak havoc on a person's pulmonary system. Workplace exposure can happen through inhalation or absorption of toxins. The internal damage can have a serious and debilitating impact on a person's quality of life. At Law Offices of Gallner & Pattermann, P.C., we understand the effects of workplace exposure. We strive to provide help to injured people by pursuing toxic tort claims and workers' compensation benefits.
Have you or a loved one suffered an injury or illness because of workplace exposure to toxic fumes? Contact a lawyer from Gallner & Pattermann today to learn your legal options. We offer free consultations.
What is Toxic Exposure?
Toxic exposure occurs any time you come into contact with a harmful substance. Generally speaking, these toxins or chemicals will be airborne, making it difficult to detect or escape them. Exposure can result in acute problems such as asthma, dizziness, or nausea. Acute toxin exposure may need immediate medical attention, depending on what chemical or toxin you have inhaled. Brain damage, lung damage, and other issues may occur if left untreated or if not treated quickly enough.
It can also create problems over time. Long-term exposure to toxins can cause ailments like asthmatic bronchitis or pulmonary conditions. You may even risk developing cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other issues with the pulmonary system that could threaten your life or impact you for the rest of it.
Unfortunately, exposure to deadly substances can result in issues that might last quite a while, eating into your health, finances, and peace of mind.
Exposure to Excessive Noise
Generally, we think of Iowa workplace hazards as consisting of slippery floors, unsafe ladders, and dangerous chemicals. However, you may not realize that excessive noise can also risk the health of people at their jobs. According to OSHA, as many as 22 million workers a year are subjected to noise that can damage the human body. In a single year, U.S. businesses had to pay out greater than 1.5 million in penalties for inadequately protecting their workers against harmful noise.
There are a few telltale signs that your workplace might have noise issues:
- You shouldn’t have problems communicating with a fellow worker that’s about an arm’s length from you. If you have to shout to be heard, the noise level is too loud.
- You may be suffering from noise injury when your shift is over. Humming or ringing in the human ear is one sign you have exposed to excessive noise. Additionally, you may have temporary loss of hearing.
OSHA does set limits on how loud the noise level in a workplace can be. The permissible noise limit is measured in decibels, with an allowable exposure limit of 90 decibels for workers that work an eight hour day. OSHA’s standard works off an exchange rate of 5 decibels. If the noise level in a job site increases by 5, then the time that a person may be exposed to a particular noise level to receive the same amount is reduced by half. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workers should not be exposed to a noise level equivalent to 85 decibels for eight hours, to minimize the risks of hearing loss.
Basically, a workplace can be too noisy for its employees, to the point of causing injury. However, federal limits do exist that restrict the level of noise a job site can expose its workers to. If a workplace is too loud and workers experience hearing loss or other health problems, the company may be liable for penalties and fines.
Ethanol Production & Employer Responsibility
In Iowa, ethanol production is a big deal. In fact, according to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the state produces almost 30 percent of the nation’s ethanol, and about 43,000 workers in Iowa owe their jobs to this industry. Ethanol has numerous benefits for the environment when it is used as an alternative to gasoline, such as lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Although ethanol is good for the environment, there are toxic exposure hazards for those who work with it. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists a number of dangers that employers must address to keep their workers safe.
Employers must take steps to eliminate, or at least reduce, the amount of a hazardous material that a worker is exposed to, particularly in confined spaces where it can be difficult to avoid contact with a substance. This may be achieved to some degree by ensuring ventilation to prevent poor air quality. Testing must be done before workers enter a confined space and while they are inside. In grain-handling facilities, there may be a risk of combustive materials, hazardous gases, and low oxygen content, as well as the presence of fumigants and pesticides.
When it is not possible to create a safe atmosphere for workers, employers must provide personal protective equipment, such as respirators. Toxic substances may also be absorbed through the skin and irritate or damage the eyes, so equipment such as gloves, clothing, and eyewear may be necessary, as well, and employees should be trained in how to use these effectively. Signs should identify any areas where PPE is needed.
Toxic Tort Claim Attorneys Serving Iowa & Nebraska
We address your injury from virtually every angle. We help you seek proper medical treatment, help you obtain workers' compensation benefits and file third-party claims when applicable. Some conditions that are the result of workplace exposure to toxins can result in permanent disabilities. We want you to have the care you need and the financial coverage for medical bills and lost wages. In Council Bluffs and communities throughout Iowa, our firm helps people who suffer from conditions such as the following:
- Asthmatic bronchitis
- Reactive airwaves disease (RAD)
- Lung disease
- Pulmonary conditions
The manufacturer or supplier of the chemical product may be held liable for the injuries or death caused by workplace exposure. Our experience representing injured workers from a variety of occupations and industries gives us the knowledge to handle these claims.
Are you interested in learning how we can help? Contact Gallner & Pattermann today.