As a New York construction worker, you are well aware of most of the dangers present on job sites. Every day, you are at risk of getting hit by falling objects, stepping into an uncovered and unmarked hole, or being crushed by a crane. You are always careful to wear to your personal protective gear the proper way and follow all safety guidelines.
What about hazards that are not obvious? Hazardous chemicals and toxins are present on almost every job site. They can be used in the building materials or appear as emissions from machinery, such as welding torches. Fortunately, there are ways to identify toxins on the job site. If you have suffered exposure to dangerous chemicals or toxins while at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. A New York attorney experienced with work accidents can help you through the process. Read further for more information about toxins in the workplace.
Your employer has a duty
By law, your employer must inform you if there are hazardous toxins on site. Furthermore, he or she must provide you with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that contain information about the toxins. The MSDS will include information such as how to handle the substances, possible health effects, proper storage and disposal procedures, and what you should do if you are exposed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released guidelines for what you can do to limit or completely avoid exposure to dangerous chemicals and toxins. One of their suggestions is to substitute processes, materials, or tools with items that are less hazardous.
Isolating hazardous materials is also a good method for limiting exposure. Barriers such as machine guards and insulation tend to be effective preventive measures. If the materials are highly dangerous, a safe method for working with them is through the use of remote controlled equipment.
Effective ventilation systems can reduce exposure to airborne substances. There are generally two ventilation methods that can control airborne particles. The first is dilution through mixture with an uncontaminated air supply. The other is by capturing and removing the toxins at their point of creation.
Administrative control and personal protective equipment are two other methods the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest to limit or prevent exposure. Your employer can alter operations and procedures to reduce the risk of employee accidents. For example, he or she may limit access to certain high-risk areas or introduce programs aimed at preventative maintenance. He or she could also enforce the usage of protective gear such as ventilator masks or protective clothing.
When exposure can’t be avoided
Sometimes, no matter how many precautions you take or safety standards you follow, accidents happen. If you have been exposed to hazardous chemicals or toxins while on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Contact a New York injury attorney for help filing your claim or appealing a denial of benefits.