Workers’ compensation for chemical exposures may be available to any person who suffers harm from being exposed to dangerous chemicals at work. Chemical exposure is a type of workplace injury. A victim may be injured immediately after exposure. However, some victims see the side effects of dangerous chemicals many years later.

Whatever your situation, you can take steps to claim workers’ compensation. There are specific actions that you need to take in order to make a claim and receive fair compensation for your chemical exposure case.

Workers’ Compensation When Exposed to Chemicals at Work

When exposed to chemicals at work, workers’ compensation may be classified as an occupational injury or an occupational disease. The victim must be able to demonstrate that their injuries are the result of exposure at work. They must also make a timely report.

Exposure to chemicals at work is valid grounds for workers’ compensation. The compensation that the victim can receive is related to their short-term injuries, long-term injuries, treatment needs, rehabilitation efforts and loss of income from inability to work.

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Types of Chemical Exposure that Qualify for Workers’ Compensation

There are several different ways that you can be exposed to chemicals at work, including:

  • Breathing – A chemical may be released into the air where employees inhale it. The chemical enters the lungs.
  • Skin-to-skin – Sometimes, a worker may come into contact with a chemical through their skin. The chemical may cause a skin reaction, be absorbed into the body or both.
  • Ingestion – When workers take in a chemical by their mouth, it is chemical exposure through ingestion.
  • Injection – If a sharp object pierces a worker’s skin, the worker may have chemical exposure through injection.

industrial worker in contact with chemical fumes for years

Dangers of Breathing In Chemicals at Work

It is dangerous to breathe chemicals at work because the particles that you inhale spread throughout the body. These chemicals can be toxic even when they enter the body in small particles that are not visible to the human eye. They can pass through the lungs and into the bloodstream doing damage throughout the body.

Also, chemicals can directly damage the lungs, causing scarring and inhibiting the body’s ability to utilize oxygen. Finally, it’s dangerous to breathe chemicals at work because some chemicals cause burning.

What Harm Can Occur From Breathing Chemicals?

Here are examples of harm that can come from breathing chemicals:

  • Cancer
  • Irritation and inflammation
  • Burns and corrosion
  • Damage to chromosomes, mutation
  • Allergic reaction, asthma attack
  • Damage to an unborn child

State and Federal Laws Regarding Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

All states have laws that govern exposure to toxic chemicals [1]. There are federal regulations [2], too. Employers have strict regulations to follow when it comes to storing and handling toxic chemicals. There may be requirements for workers to use specific personal protective equipment when working with the chemicals.

An employer has a legal obligation to provide a reasonably safe place to work. A workplace must be free of dangers that are unreasonably likely to result in serious injury or death. When the employer fails to follow requirements for chemical handling, they may face fines and penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [3] (OSHA) in addition to liability for workers’ compensation and potential third-party liability.

Types of Chemical Exposures That Can Occur at Work

Any job carries some risk of chemical exposure. Here are some of the common types of chemical exposures that can happen at work:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Asbestos
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Ammonia
  • Chlorine
  • Sulfuric Acid
  • Petroleum
  • Pesticides
  • Silica
  • Benzene
  • Acid
  • Waste
  • Radioactive contaminants

A person might spend most of their day working with a single chemical. Other workers might encounter several different substances in the course of a workday. Sometimes, a person usually never comes into contact with a chemical but suffers from harmful, unintentional exposure.

How to Prove Chemical Exposure at Work

There are two essential elements to prove chemical exposure at work. First, you must prove that you have a disease or an injury. It’s important to thoroughly document the injury in detail, including the long-term prognosis and what treatment will be needed. Second, it’s critical to identify the link between the injury and the exposure at work. This can mean developing the facts to show what exposure occurred.

Your attorney for chemical exposure workers’ compensation can help you gather evidence, including pursuing witnesses, records and other evidence of what happened at work. Although this can be challenging in situations where you worked for the company many years ago, there are ways to go about proving the case. Your attorney can help you gather this information and the medical evidence necessary to document your claim.

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Chemical Exposure at Work and Third-Party Liability

Remember that filing for workers’ compensation may not be your only recourse in the case of chemical exposure at work. There may be a third party that is responsible for chemical exposure. Another business or entity may be responsible for the storage, transport or distribution of the chemical that caused harm.

If there is a third party to blame, a negligence claim may be available to you. The negligence claim may be brought directly against the third party to claim a range of damages, including long-term medical bills, pain and suffering and changes in lifestyle. Although a statute of limitations may apply, there are exceptions in cases where the victim doesn’t know about the injury for some time. An attorney for chemical exposure at work claims can help you understand if you qualify for this type of case and how it may impact your worker’s compensation claim.

medical testimony

Nevada Laws for Workers’ Compensation for Chemical Exposure

Workers’ compensation laws for chemical exposure are Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 617, Occupational Diseases [4]. NRS 617.342 creates a timeline for reporting an occupational disease like chemical exposure based on knowledge of the disability and its relationship to employment. Some exceptions may excuse the time requirement, like when the failure to report is because of fraud or deceit or the mental inability of the victim or dependent.
NRS 617.352 [5] requires the treating physician to complete claims paperwork. Also, the employer must file a report of injury. Under NRS 617.356 [6], the insurer has 30 days to accept or deny a claim. They must notify the claimant in writing of their decision. NRS 617.358 [7] requires a preponderance of the evidence that the disease arose out of employment.

Attorneys for Chemical Exposure Workers’ Compensation

Have you been exposed to dangerous chemicals at work? Contact our Las Vegas workers’ compensation attorneys today. There are time limits to file a claim, so don’t wait to contact us for your free and confidential consultation.

Sources:

[1] NRS 459

[2] United States Environmental Protection Agency. Regulatory Information by Topic: Toxic Substances. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.epa.gov/regulatory-information-topic/regulatory-information-topic-toxic-substances

[3] United States Department of Labor. Chemical Exposure Health Data. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.osha.gov/opengov/healthsamples.html

[4] NRS 617.342

[5] NRS 617.352

[6] NRS 617.356

[7] NRS 617.358