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Exposure to Harmful or Dangerous Chemicals

Exposure to harmful or dangerous chemicals is one of the common ways workers throughout Massachusetts, including those in the greater Boston area, suffer injuries or become sick. In many cases, victims do not realize their injury or illness is due to workplace exposure to chemicals. Typically, when we think of someone being injured by dangerous or harmful chemicals, we often think of what we see in the movies, like a large vat of acid or other toxic chemical in a factory or warehouse. In reality, we are exposed to hazardous chemicals on a regular basis, and occupational exposure is much more common than one might initially realize.

An employee at nail salon, for example, is exposed to hazardous chemicals and other materials on a daily basis. This could include acetate used as a solvent to remove nail polish, glues used to make acrylic nails, chemical-laden dust from grinding nails, and the polish itself. Many of these chemicals are tested to see if they are safe for consumers, but there is often insufficient testing done regarding occupational use by employees of the salons.

As the workers’ compensation benefits attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffery S. Glassman, LLC in Boston can explain, the symptoms of this type of occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals are often far less dramatic than we would see in the movies, but can just as quickly result in temporary or even permanent disability, which can prevent the injured worker from earning a living.

Some symptoms can include severe skin rashes or skin breakdown, nerve damage, bloody noses, respiratory problems, headaches, and other serious conditions. When a victim cannot leave the house due to breathing trouble and cannot concentrate do to neurological impairments or severe headaches, he or she will be forced to incur medical expenses while, at the same time, missing work.

A nail salon worker is, of course, only one example that involves employees being exposed to dangerous or hazardous chemicals. Other examples include pool workers, store employees who handle household chemicals, hair stylists, construction workers, sanitation workers, healthcare workers, and those employed in many other industries. Health care workers are routinely exposed to hazardous chemicals, infectious material, radiation, and other harmful materials that can result in workplace injuries.

What should you do if you suspect occupational exposure to harmful or dangerous chemicals?

If you’re an employee who has started to develop symptoms commonly associated with occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals, it is important to discuss these concerns with a doctor. Doctors often have difficulty making the connection between symptoms and occupational exposure without a patient telling them about all of the chemicals to which they are exposed.

The employee can also get the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) that the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires be provided to all employees who work with chemicals. If you employer has not provided these sheets, they can be obtained easily on the internet.

When speaking with a workers’ compensation attorney who regularly handles hazardous chemical cases, you should mention if your employer failed to provide MSDSs at your workplace, as this may be relevant to your claim.

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