Exposure to chemicals while at work is a risk that many employees must face on a daily basis, but with some knowledge and care, minimizing these risks is possible. The range of work injuries due to chemical exposure can vary widely, such as a factory worker overcome by fumes from a chemical spill, or the constant exposure to the everyday chemicals found in the typical office environment. Across this entire spectrum, chemical injury can result in a debilitating condition of chronic chemical sensitivity or other chemical environmental illness which threaten at work health.
If working with hazardous chemicals is part of your job, it is critical that you to know the possible risks you will face with each chemical you are exposed to. This guide outlines the kinds of injuries that chemicals can cause, the types of chemical exposures and their effects, and factors that influence the severity of exposure.
Know your chemicals and their characteristics
Chemicals can vary greatly in their level of toxicity, so three factors must be considered at all times: The amount of chemical, the frequency of exposure, and the duration of exposure.
As an example, Acutelytoxic chemicals can injure after only a single exposure, while other chemicals only cause harm after repeated exposures. In order to protect yourself from this dangerous group of substances that injure without immediately obvious symptoms, you must be aware of which chemicals are toxic if exposure is repeated or prolonged.
Types of Reactions
Upon exposure to a hazardous chemical, you can expect one of two kinds of reactions:
Local reactions, which manifest themselves at the place where the exposure occurred. For example, breathing dangerous chemical vapors may injure lungs and respiratory passages, while swallowing such chemicals can damage your mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines.
Systemic reactions are a response to chemical exposure that affects the whole body. These illnesses may cause symptoms in one or two areas, but the whole body can be affected. They may be immediate or delayed, and you may not even know you have been exposed until the chemicals have done severe damage.
Chemical characteristics can determine exposure level
● Chemicals can enter the bloodstream through the skin, eyes, mouth and, most frequently, the lungs. Know which routes of entry are at risk and always use protective equipment to prevent those kinds of exposures.
● Extremely volatile chemicals evaporate very readily, and thus may contaminate the air you breathe more easily than other chemicals do. If a chemical is flammable it may be an extreme fire or explosion hazard as well.
● Corrosive or highly reactive chemicals are acutely toxic and will injure skin, respiratory passages or eyes on contact immediately.
● If you are not aware of the hazards that the chemicals you use at work present, consult your Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for information on the physical characteristics of these chemicals which may threaten your at work health.
Prepare for dangers to your at work health
Always employ protective equipment and be sure to follow safety guidelines appropriate for hazardous chemicals. Review the MSDS if you have any doubts about the dangers of any chemical, and avoid simply relying on your memory or tips from co-workers. The guidelines will list the signs and symptoms of chemical toxicity for both local and systemic reactions as well as the target organs and primary routes of entry.
If you have suffered a hazardous chemicals related exposure, or any other work related injuries in Chicago, Illinois request a Free Case Evaluation -Call Toll Free 1-866-854-6674.
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. The Law Offices of Bradley S. Dworkin shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.