Coming into contact with hazardous and toxic chemicals is an unfortunate side effect of working in many industrial plants. Hazardous materials include dust, mixtures, paints, fuels, fumes, and solvents, and affect many industrial workers everyday.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates over 400 substances, but exposure and illness still occur. Such exposure may occur by accidental ingestion, contact with the skin, or through the respiratory passages.
There are a number of actions that employers can take to keep their employees safe, and prevent chemical plant accidents:
- Identify what processes are occurring that may release or produce dangerous chemicals
- Monitor air levels for chemicals with proper equipment
- Provide protective personal equipment to employees, and require that employees use this equipment at all times
- Draft and enforce safety procedures that must be followed when working with dangerous chemicals
Common Dangerous Chemicals
Benzene is a colorless, flammable, and sweet-smelling chemical often used as a solvent, or as a base to make other chemicals. It is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents, pesticides, and other chemicals. Long-term exposure to this chemical can result in serious and fatal illnesses such as leukemia, bone-marrow and blood diseases.
Short-term exposure is also dangerous, and can result in dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, vomiting, convulsions, rapid heartbeat, and even death.
Benzene is particularly dangerous because it quickly evaporates, leaving it easily inhaled in the air.
Industrial workers that are at a high risk for benzene exposure include the following industries:
- Rubber industry
- Gasoline industry
- Chemical plants
- Oil refineries
- Shoe manufacturing
Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that is heavier than air, and therefore collects in low places and confined spaces such as sewers, caves, and manholes. Its rotten egg smell quickly dissipates and the exposed worker may be unaware that he is risking exposure.
Short-term effects of hydrogen sulfide include nausea, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness. Long-term effects at high concentrations include poor attention span, memory loss, cardiovascular problems, and asthma. It can also lead to rapid loss of consciousness, which can cause other injuries such as falls.
Industrial workers that risk hydrogen sulfide exposure include:
- Sanitation workers
- Farm workers
- Oil and natural gas drilling and refining
- Sewer/wastewater treatment plants
The Chemical Plant Accident Attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer Can Help
Exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to lifelong health problems. Your employer is obligated to provide you with a safe workplace, and if you have been injured on the job due to chemical exposure, you need compensation to take care of your financial and medical needs.
You are probably unsure how to proceed. A chemical plant accident lawyer at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP is always here to listen to the particular facts of your case and give you an immediate and honest assessment of your case. You do not have to face this difficult time alone. Contact us today to begin on the road to recovery.