Unseen dangers can cause workplace injuries, too

When you work at a construction site, in a warehouse or at a manufacturing facility, there are many potential workplace hazards you can see, dangers that you're aware of. But like many workers here in northern Kentucky, there are many more workplace hazards that you can't see, that aren't readily apparent.

For example, many industries use hazardous chemicals and toxic substances. Regardless of what substances may be used at your work, these unseen dangers can wreak havoc on your body or even kill you. If you suffer an injury after being exposed to an unseen danger in your workplace, you may be able to seek workers' compensation benefits to help with the financial losses you experience.

First, find out what you face

Your employer is under an obligation to provide you with a safe workplace. Part of doing that means letting you know what chemicals or substances could cause you harm while on the job. You have the right to know exactly what it is that puts your life in jeopardy and the consequences of exposure.

All containers and materials must be marked to identify the hazardous chemical or toxic substance they contain. If an area of the facility in which you work also contains toxins, your employer must also post warning signs. You also have the right to see the "Material Safety Data Sheets" for a particular substance or chemical.

Second, find out how to protect yourself

A cooperative effort between you and your employer needs to occur in order to limit the chances of you suffering exposure to whatever harmful substances or chemicals you work around every time you go to work. The law requires your employer to take certain measures to keep you safe such as the following:

  • Provide personal protective equipment
  • Replace or modify equipment or processes as needed
  • Properly isolate toxic chemicals and substances
  • Provide proper ventilation where needed
  • Limit access to toxic chemicals and substances
  • Employ preventive maintenance programs
  • Adjust work schedules as needed

Your employer should use other appropriate administrative controls such as training and other processes to make sure that you are as safe as possible.

Third, find out what to do if an accident happens

Even with all safety measures in place, you could still end up exposed. That exposure could cause acute or chronic injuries to you. Depending on the circumstances, you may end up with lifelong issues due to the exposure or you may recover completely over time.

Regardless, you have the right to pursue workers' compensation benefits. Once it's established that your illness resulted from chemical or toxic exposure, you may receive benefits to cover your medical-related expenses and your lost wages. Other benefits may also be available to you after review of your particular situation.

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