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How common is fatal toxic exposure in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2022 | Workers' Compensation |

Workers in all occupations fear injury on nearly every shift. From an office worker struggling with repetitive stress to a factory worker avoiding a crush injury, all occupations carry some level of hazard. Unfortunately, many workers might not fully grasp the dangers of chemical exposure until it’s too late.

The study of workplace toxins is such a worldwide danger that data published by the UN in 2018 noted that, on average, a worker dies because of occupational toxic exposure every 30 seconds. In general, the exposure can come in three forms:

  • Inhalation, when the worker breathes fumes, vapor or dust into the body where it can either lodge in the lining of the lungs or circulate through the body.
  • Ingestion, when dust, particulate matter or liquid chemicals make their way into the mouth and travel down the esophagus.
  • Skin contact, when the toxic material splashes directly against the skin. This often leads to skin surface irritation. Additionally, the worker could suffer dermal absorption and the chemical is absorbed into the body damaging subcutaneous tissue, muscle, bone and internal organs.

Occupational chemicals run a broad range that can include both known hazards and unexpected dangers, including:

  • Asbestos fibers
  • Silica dust
  • Copper dust
  • Benzene
  • Lead
  • Bleach

These substances can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, degenerative neurological conditions, reproductive anomalies, blood infection and occupational asthma. Workers often struggle with health conditions for months, years or decades before realizing where the danger had originated.

Many people automatically equate a workplace injury with a single accident such as falling down a set of stairs or getting shocked by industrial machinery. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation claims include a wide range of injury types and degenerative conditions.


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