Many jobs involve some level of exposure to dangerous substances. Even office work and other white-collar work may subject employees to hazardous solvents, fluids, pollutants and other irritants. Many Illinois residents are permanently or temporarily disabled by exposure to a dangerous substance in the workplace. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict rules about chemical exposure on the job. This quick guide can help workers find out more about their rights.
Different kinds of chemical exposure
Chemical exposure can have many different forms and effects. Some substances are irritants that may cause allergies or excessive sensitization. Other chemicals are carcinogens that can lead to deadly cancers, as Woodstock worker compensation attorneys know. Flammable substances and reactive substances can pose a severe danger on the job. Corrosive chemicals are also regulated by OSHA guidelines.
OSHA standards require worker exposure to remain below set thresholds. In some cases, a substance is declared so hazardous that no level of exposure is safe. Unprotected access to asbestos is a common example of this zero-tolerance policy.
Education and information for workers
Workers who may face exposure to hazardous substances are required to have proper training and information. They must know the dangers of the substance, the exposure limits and the precautions they should take when exposed. Woodstock worker compensation attorneys are aware that the use of the substance must cease immediately if employees are not properly trained.
Access to medical and occupational records
Workers have the right to know whether they have suffered ill effects from exposure to dangerous chemicals. They must be given free access to records in all of the following categories:
- Results of biological monitoring, including blood tests and urine tests
- Results of air monitoring in the workplace
- Data sheets with detailed information about substances and their possible effects
- Statistical analyses and studies compiled in the work environment
- Medical complaints made by other employees in the same facility or industry
- Records of first aid treatments, prescriptions, medical histories and diagnoses
If workers are unable to access these records in person, they can designate a representative to consult them. Many severely disabled workers benefit from this arrangement.
Increased safety on the job
As employers and workers become more aware of dangerous substances on the job, new rules are enacted to protect staff. According to OSHA regulations, approximately 500 substances are now strictly enforced by exposure limits. For many employers, increasing safety is an ongoing process. People who have been exposed to hazardous substances may wish to consider speaking with a Woodstock worker compensation attorney.