Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems. A worker compensation lawyer in Algonquin can recall many cases of employees who are permanently disabled because of lead-related illnesses. A recent case in Illinois shows the hazards of exposing workers to this dangerous metal on the job.
OSHA finds severe dangers in a metal processing facility
In June 2014, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an inspection of an Illinois metal processing facility. As a result of the inspection, the company was cited for 30 major safety violations involving exposure to lead dust and other forms of toxic metal dust. The high level of lead exposure in the factory was determined to be a willful violation of employee health and safety. The facility, operated by Hagerty Brothers Co., is now on a watch list of severe safety violators. The company is facing proposed fines of more than $170,000.
Lead exposure is a major threat in many industries
Many forms of occupational illness are directly linked to lead exposure. According to statistics compiled by the National Institute of Occupational Health, 3 million American workers are currently exposed to dangerous levels of lead on the job. Plumbers, miners, auto mechanics, construction workers, metal workers and other factory workers are all at risk of damage from lead pollution. A worker compensation lawyer in Algonquin is also aware that employees can carry lead dust home with them on their skin or clothes, exposing their families to lead poisoning.
Knowing the symptoms of lead poisoning
The symptoms of lead poisoning are highly variable and may often be mistaken for other diseases. Some of the most common symptoms include the following:
- Stomach pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea or constipation
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal fatigue and irritability
- Anemia or pale skin
- Impaired coordination
- Delayed reaction times
In severe cases of acute or chronic lead poisoning, victims may suffer kidney damage or go into shock. Lead exposure can be fatal if it is continued at sufficiently high doses.
Mitigating the risks of lead
Many industries have cut down on the use of lead, but it remains vital in the manufacturing of some important products. Employees who handle lead in the workplace must use appropriate safety measures, including personal respirators, skin protection, frequent hand washing and regular testing for lead in the blood and body tissue.
Have you been exposed to unsafe levels of lead on the job? You may be able to understand more about your options by meeting with a worker compensation lawyer in Algonquin.