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Inhalation Injuries at Work

Injuries Caused From Inhalation of Dangerous Substances on the Job

Everything we do leaves behind chemicals in the atmosphere: driving a car, disposing of our garbage, and cooking on gas stoves. At work, employees are often exposed to even more chemicals, and the inhalation of these substances is among the most common injuries suffered on a worksite. Studies have shown that somewhere between 4% and 10% of cancer cases result from work-related exposure to dangerous chemicals. Massachusetts law recognizes that workers should not be burdened with paying for these injuries, and the Workers Compensation Act provides them with compensation.

Dangerous chemical injuries may occur as a result of skin-to-skin contact, breathing in fumes, or swallowing trace amounts of the substance. Common chemicals leading to inhalation injuries include: asbestos, lead, benzene, pesticides, cadmium, beryllium, mercury, silica, paint, solvents, acids, and many more. When these chemicals are present in dust or air at a worksite, workers are likely to inhale them unbeknownst to them. Asbestos-specific claims may give rise to a suit in which you can sue for damages without filing a workers compensation claim. Contact us to see if this option is available to you.

Who is Most at Risk?

Miners may inhale dust with silica in it which can lead to certain types of lung diseases. Construction workers that deal with concrete, insulation, and drywall products are at risk of exposure to wood dust, asbestos and other chemical fumes. Welders are exposed to toxic metal fumes that cause a disease similar to Parkinson’s. Farm workers, cotton workers, and aerospace workers also are at higher risk for inhalation injuries. Employees that work in manual labor are considered most at risk, but traditional office settings can also pose a separate risk to employees: asbestos exposure.

If you believe you have been exposed to a dangerous chemical make sure you report it to your supervisor, explain in detail how you were exposed, get the names of any witnesses, and get medical treatment if necessary. After you take these steps, contact us to begin filing your workers compensation claim. We may begin by sampling or testing at your workplace and referring to specialists in this area to bolster your claim. It is important to know that others may have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms. Your claim can help prevent others from suffering the same way you have.

A workers compensation claim is not based on fault. Even if your employer was exercising the highest possible level of caution, you have a claim. All you have to prove is that you were exposed to a harmful substance on the job, and that exposure caused your injury. Almost all employees in the state of Massachusetts are covered by workers compensation insurance. To be eligible you must suffer a work-related injury or illness. You may also recover if you are a dependent of a worker killed on the job. Compensation will cover relevant medical bills, lost wages, and possibly the cost of rehabilitation services. A personal injury claim may also be available if your injury was caused by the negligence of some party other than your employer. We can help you determine if this avenue is available to you.

These claims are sometimes more complex than they appear. Symptoms caused by exposure to chemicals often do not present themselves until years after the chemical was actually ingested, so it may be harder to establish what exactly caused the injury. We have an experienced team of workers compensation lawyers that are well versed in these suits. Our experienced work injury lawyers are available around the clock to answer your questions or to provide you a free case consultation. To speak to a local and dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 617.492.3000.

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