Nearly every occupation contains some level of risk for serious injury and severe health conditions. While some industries like construction and first responders face deadly risks on every shift, other dangers might be more hidden in some occupations. The risk of toxic exposure, for example, can impact workers in unexpected ways.
From factory work to janitorial services, workers often face the threat of toxic exposure. While many people equate toxic exposure with direct skin contact, that is only partially true. Even though there are certain outliers, toxic exposure generally occurs in three ways:
- Inhalation: Whether it is dust particles, small fibers or chemical vapor, it is not uncommon for workers to inhale these toxic materials. The inhalation of dangerous chemicals can cause immediate, long-lasting damage to the lungs and internal organs. Workers could struggle with occupational asthma, asbestosis, silicosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer.
- Ingestion: When the dangerous chemical is ingested, it can cause damage to the mouth, esophagus, stomach and internal organs. This can occur due a splashing chemical or inadvertent transfer to the mouth.
- Skin contact: Even if a worker wears protective clothing, the toxic material could come into direct contact with the skin. This can cause a painful rash, swelling or absorption into the underlying tissue.
Many people only think of workers’ compensation in terms of a single workplace injury such as falling down a set of stairs, or muscle or joint damage caused by repetitive strain. Unfortunately, the danger does not stop there. Workers can develop severe conditions that impact the skin, underlying tissue or internal organs based on their exposure to dangerous chemicals and toxic materials.