While people think about the risk of workplace injuries due to accidents, workers in many workplaces also face other risks every day. One workplace risk that is common in many different industries is chemical exposure. What should workers know about hazardous substances in their workplace.
Employers must prepare workers for handling chemicals.
If you may experience chemical exposure in your workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires your employer to provide you with training. This training may include instructions on proper handling of these substances. It may also teach you what precautions like gloves or respirators you should use when working with chemicals.
OSHA also requires labeling for hazardous substances. These labels should include information about the dangers that the labeled chemical could pose for workers.
How might chemical exposure harm an employee’s health?
Even with appropriate training and careful precautions, a person may still experience chemical exposure on the job. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a person may experience chemical exposure in a variety of ways. These include breathing in chemicals, swallowing chemicals that enter their mouth or coming into direct physical contact with these substances on their skin. Depending on the type of exposure, this may result in:
- Burns and scarring
- Respiratory issues
- Skin irritation, including rashes
- Poisoning, including digestive distress
- Eye irritation or damage to the eyes
Long-term exposure may lead to even more health concerns, including damage to organs, the development of conditions like asthma or even birth defects.
Because of long-term impact that chemical exposure can have on a person’s health, people injured by these harmful substances should take steps to protect their health. One important source of support is workers’ compensation, which can offer financial support as people recover from chemical exposure on the job.