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  • Writer's pictureJohn Larrimer

An Overview of Workers' Comp for Toxic Exposures in Columbus, Ohio

Getting exposed to toxic substances can severely injure and even kill a person. Whether it's inhaling toxic fumes or being exposed to a dangerous chemical like lead, getting such injuries in the workplace might make the victim eligible for a workers' compensation claim.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) set for these environments. These are meant to protect all employees from being exposed to a dangerous amount of a toxic substance.

Unfortunately, PELs don't cover all toxic chemicals. In these cases, those exposed to harmful substances should seek compensation through a toxic exposure claim.

This page covers workers' comp for toxic exposures and all the legal rights that victims have available.

How Would Someone Get Toxic Chemical Exposure in Their Workplace?

How Would Someone Get Toxic Chemical Exposure in Their Workplace?

People can get exposed to toxic chemicals in many ways. Some work in dangerous environments involving construction, whereas others simply get exposed due to an isolated problem like an explosion or spill.

Depending on the issue, a worker could get exposed to these toxic materials for weeks or even months. Minor injuries could turn into severe ones as time passes.

The exposure itself can happen through different methods, such as:

  • Inhalation

  • Ingestion

  • Eye absorption

  • Skin absorption

Among all the factors, inhalation tends to be the most common channel of harmful exposure to chemicals.

Where Can People Get Exposed to Toxic Substances?

Technically, someone could get exposed to chemical substances in any place. However, some industries are more dangerous than others.

Some of the most common jobs that expose workers to chemicals and severe injuries include:

  • Airline workers

  • Construction workers

  • Farmers

  • Firefighters

  • Cleaners

  • Painters

  • Textile workers

  • Laboratory technicians

  • Hospitality personnel

  • Manufacturing workers

  • Coal miners

  • Waste disposal staff

  • Welders

Here's an overview of toxic exposure risks in some of these industries:

  • Aerospace Industry: Usually, airline workers are exposed to beryllium, which is a low-density metal.

  • Mining: Miners are exposed to different dangerous chemicals known to cause problems. This job could include silica or asbestos exposure.

  • Farming: Farmers can inhale many forms of bacteria found in crops, as well as mold spores. Exposure to them can lead to lung damage or death.

  • Construction: Those in the construction industry are exposed to a wide range of hazardous chemicals, including asbestos, lead, silica, PVC, formaldehyde, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

  • Welding: Welders often inhale hazardous fumes like manganese. This can lead to health complications.

  • Laboratories: Some of the most common harmful chemicals to find in a lab include nitrous oxide, arsenic trioxide, benzene, chlorine, methanol, hydrogen cyanide, and more.

Overview of All the Common Workplace Chemicals Someone Can Get Exposed to

As mentioned, there are dozens of different chemicals or compounds that could cause injuries. Some of the most important ones to be aware of include:

  • Acids

  • Asbestos

  • Glues

  • Heavy metals

  • Pesticides

  • Paint

  • Petroleum

  • Solvents

  • Glues

  • Toner

What Reactions Can a Harmful Chemical Cause in Someone's Body?

Toxic chemical exposure can lead to many risks. While some of them are easily treatable, others can be fatal for the victim.

  • Teratogens: These harmful chemicals can cause a birth defect.

  • Mutagens: They might cause changes to the chromosomes.

  • Irritants: As their name implies, these chemicals cause irritation (and even inflammation in severe cases) to a person's soft tissues.

  • Corrosives: Corrosives can destroy bodily tissues and leave them without any chance of healing properly.

  • Carcinogens: These chemicals can cause cancer.

  • Sensitizers: They can cause allergic reactions, which can become dangerous if they're left untreated.

How to Know If Someone Has a Toxic Injury

It may be hard to tell if someone has a toxic exposure injury, especially if they don't have any visible symptoms yet.

Regardless of the circumstances, anyone affected by an event involving toxic chemicals should seek medical help immediately. Chemical exposure, unfortunately, may start causing symptoms even months or years after the first contact.

Thankfully, there are a few warning signs that victims can use for their claims. These include:

  • Body Aches: Long-term exposure to certain chemicals can lead to chronic fatigue and pain. Someone who starts feeling unexplained body aches should seek emergency care immediately.

  • Migraines: Several people suffer from migraines, which could make it harder to relate them to toxic chemical exposure. However, these are also a side effect of exposure to air chemicals. Usually, those exposed to toxic chemicals will also experience sensitivity to light and nausea alongside the migraine.

  • Irritated Eyes: Being exposed to a toxic chemical will likely irritate the eyes, so victims could experience a burning sensation there.

  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Someone who inhales toxic fumes could start feeling burning sensations around their stomach or esophagus.

  • Respiratory Issues: Toxic air chemicals can irritate many parts of the respiratory system. Victims can experience burning sensations in their chest, as well as congestion in the throat, nose, ears, lungs, and voice box.

  • Skin Inflammation: Being in contact with certain substances could burn or cause inflammation on the skin.

Is Toxic Exposure Covered by Workers' Comp?

Yes, a person can get workers' comp benefits if they were exposed to toxic chemicals in their workplace in Ohio. Since workers' compensation cases aren't fault-based claims, victims don't have to prove someone else's negligence to get compensated.

However, workers in Ohio must prove that being exposed to a harmful chemical in the workplace was what caused the illness or injury. Victims must also establish that their current employment conditions put them at a greater risk of exposure compared to what the general public must deal with.

There are four main factors that the victim must prove:

  • The victim developed a medically-diagnosed disease.

  • The disease in question was caused by the victim's exposure to a toxic chemical.

  • The victim was exposed to this chemical in the workplace.

  • The victim can't perform their regular work duties because of the disease.

What If Someone Was Responsible for the Victim's Workplace Exposure?

Claiming workers' comp or temporary disability benefits could prevent the victim from being able to sue their employer. However, in some scenarios, there may be a third party responsible for what happened.

In these unique cases, the victim may seek compensation through workers' compensation and third-party claims. The victim can use the money to cover any of the following:

  • Medical bills

  • Diagnostic testing

  • Physical therapy

  • Prescription or over-the-counter medication

  • Lost wages

  • Travel expenses to medical appointments

  • Mental anguish

How Can Victims File a Workers' Comp Claim for Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals?

It's crucial to act as fast as possible to ensure the best chance of earning proper compensation.

If the victim's injury happened because of an event, they must claim the incident immediately. Those who get emergency treatment should report that as soon as they stabilize.

Some cases involve witnesses. If there are any, the victim should contact them, as their testimony could be vital when making the claim.

What if the injuries were caused by long-term exposure? The steps are slightly different. Victims must:

  • Get a full examination from a licensed physician.

  • Report the injury to the employer as soon as possible with proof.

  • Document the diagnosed injuries and their progress in a journal. It's also a great idea to take pictures or videos if the injuries are visible.

  • Contact an attorney for help.

The last step is especially important because some victims make mistakes that hurt their claims, and the worst part is that they don't even notice. Some common errors include:

  • Not reporting the injury or incident

  • Failing to get medical care in time

  • Not providing enough information about the incident to the physician

  • Not getting a certified doctor's report

  • Not making a reasonable effort to search for light-duty work (if it's possible to do so)

How Long Does Someone Have to File Toxic Exposure Claims?

How Long Does Someone Have to File Toxic Exposure Claims?

In Ohio, victims have one year from getting injured or disabled to file their claim. According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC), the victim could also file their claim up to six months after being diagnosed by a licensed physician. They can do this as long as the six-month period doesn't shorten the standard timeline.

What's the "date of disability" according to the BWC? There are three potential dates:

  • When the disease/condition was diagnosed accurately as an occupational injury.

  • When the victim first received medical treatment for their disease.

  • When the victim stops working because of their condition.

It may be complicated to tell how long someone has to file their claim considering that these diseases can even take years to develop. People exposed to asbestos, for example, may not start feeling considerable symptoms until decades have passed.

The best way to build a solid case and not miss the statute of limitations is to talk to a workers compensation lawyer in Columbus.

Final Thoughts

Working with a lawyer can help ensure victims get the workers' compensation benefits they deserve. Toxic chemical exposure can be deadly for anyone, especially those working in unsafe environments. They can also help with Workers' Comp for repetitive strain injuries.

The legal experts at Larrimer & Larrimer are ready to help victims navigate their workers' compensation cases, get the necessary evidence to file their claims, and educate them on all their rights.

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