Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace

Hazardous chemicals

A number of jobs and tasks require the use of harsh or toxic chemicals. Even the simple act of running a machine can contaminate a work environment with hazardous fumes. When workers are exposed to these toxins, they can face both immediate and long-term threats of illness.

The Occupational Safety Hazard Administration (OSHA) established a list of permissible exposure limits (PELs), stating the maximum amount of each chemical that workers can safely be exposed to. However, many of these amounts have not been updated since the creation of the list, and many chemicals are not included at all. For this reason, OSHA has launched a national dialogue on this issue. They are accepting comments from the public on chemical exposure amounts and related issues in the workplace through the Federal Register until March of 2015.

In an October 9th news release, OSHA announced the beginning of the dialogue and specifically requested comments pertaining to:

  • Possible streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses
  • Alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures, including control banding, task-based approaches and informed substitution.

Submitting suggestions on these topics can help OSHA to improve its standards and protect workers in the future from a wide range of hazardous materials while on the job.

Common examples of hazardous chemicals include:

  • Asbestos
  • Benzene
  • Chromium
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Solvents
  • Synthetic mineral fibers, such as fiberglass

OSHA estimates that over 225,000 workers are exposed to synthetic mineral fibers alone. Those who handle these and other toxins face a wide range of potential injuries that may take years to develop from long-term exposure. Others can harm workers immediately from exposure, through touching a material or inhaling it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 330 workers died in 2013 from exposure to harmful substances.

Injuries resulting from hazardous chemical exposure include:

  • Burns
  • Damage to esophagus
  • Eye damage
  • Lung damage
  • Poisoning
  • Skin damage

If you have relevant information, or a comment on OSHA’s processes to protect workers, Liggett Law Group encourages you to contribute to the requested dialogue, to help make the workplace as safe as possible. Those who have been injured by exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace can turn to Liggett Law Group for an analysis of their situation and assistance with moving forward.