Hazardous Exposure
Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska

Depending on the type of work you’re engaged in, employees can be exposed to toxic chemicals or substances that can lead to adverse effects. Some of these substances might be employed in the day-to-day operations of the business, while others can be produced as waste resulting from operations of the facility.

The most common types of injuries that result from exposure to toxic substances are rashes, burns, throat and lung injuries, and nerve and neurological damage.

In most cases, an employee who suffers from toxic exposure is limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, if the injury results from the negligence of a third party — such as the chemical manufacturer — then a personal injury lawsuit might be possible.

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to toxic exposure in Omaha, Nebraska, or the surrounding counties of Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, or Lancaster, contact Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O., today for a consultation. Our attorneys will listen to your story, assess liability, and discuss all of your legal options with you, including the potential for a personal injury lawsuit.

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued what it calls a Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which places enforceable mandates on chemical manufacturers and importers, as well as on employers.

Manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate each product and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey dangers to users. Employers must not only make sure the chemicals that are used in the workplace have their labels intact but also that the safety data sheets are available for end users. In addition, employers are required to train employees on the proper use of toxic substances, which can include even everyday cleaning agents.

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OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits

OSHA also has established enforceable standards for exposure time limits to hazardous chemicals and substances. These are called permissible exposure limits (PELs), which include limits on the airborne concentration of hazardous chemicals in the air.

Most OSHA PELs are 8-hour time-weighted averages (TWA), although there are also Ceiling and Peak limits. In addition, many chemicals include a skin designation to warn against skin contact. Approximately 500 PELs have been established. Separate regulatory PEL standards have been promulgated for General Industry, Shipyard Employment, and the Construction Industry.

Environmental Protection Agency & Toxic Substances

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces two federal statutes that govern toxic substances. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) addresses the manufacturing, processing, distribution, use, and disposal of commercial and industrial chemicals. The Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) establishes pollution prevention as the national policy for controlling industrial pollution at its source.

The PPA focuses on reducing hazard substance release into the environment prior to recycling, treatment, or disposal. Methods to do so include equipment or technology modifications, process or procedure modifications, reformulation or redesign of products, the substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training, or inventory control.

Common Exposure Injuries

Some of the more common toxic chemicals and substances that can cause injury to employees on the job are asbestos, lead, benzene, pesticides, cadmium, beryllium, mercury, silica, paint, solvents, and acids.

The ways in which someone can come into contact with hazardous chemicals are called pathways. The three basic pathways are inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact. Contact can lead to adverse health effects depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type of the chemical
  • The amount of the dose
  • The duration of exposure
  • The frequency of exposure

Additionally, not all persons react the same to exposure. Some persons may be more reactive than others — that is, just a single exposure might lead to sickness, while for others, repeated exposure might be necessary.

The symptoms of hazardous chemical exposure include:

  • Burns
  • Itchy, burning eyes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Fevers and chills
  • Rapid heart rate

In addition to burns and rashes and the sometimes-momentary symptoms listed above, exposure to toxic substances can lead to serious illnesses and diseases, including:

  • Asbestosis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Brain Damage
  • Heavy Metals Poisoning
  • Nerve Damage
  • Death

What to Do When Injury Occurs

Your first recourse for any workplace illness or injury is to report it to your employer and seek workers’ compensation to cover your medical treatment and any lost wages due to time off to recover.

A personal injury lawsuit may also be possible if a third-party manufacturer or supplier of a chemical, or office product containing chemicals, fails to adequately provide safety warnings and instructions, or produces a product whose toxicity cannot easily be contained when following instructions.

A personal injury claim, if successful, can open up avenues toward compensation so that you can recover non-economic awards for pain and suffering in addition to economic awards for medical expenses, lost income, and more.

Hazardous Exposure Attorney
Serving Omaha, Nebraska

If you or a loved one has fallen sick or been injured because of toxic substance exposure at work, contact Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O. We will investigate the circumstances of your case, investigate and assess liability, and then explain your options to you.  We will work with you on all fronts as you seek the best possible outcome for your case. Our firm is proud to serve clients in Omaha, Nebraska, and throughout the counties of Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, and Lancaster. Call today to schedule your own free consultation!