A Complicated Case of Workplace Exposure

From mold in an office building to dangerous chemicals at manufacturing plants, harmful substances can lurk in any workplace environment!

Chemical Exposure on the Job

Sometimes, exposure is just an unfortunate part of the job. A nail salon worker, for example, gets exposed to fumes from chemicals in nail products. Similarly, a mechanic is frequently subjected to car exhaust. Other times, exposure occurs due to a defect, a negligent procedure, or a company’s reckless decision to ignore a dangerous presence.

Depending on the chemical or substance, exposure injuries can range from mild to severe. In small doses, some substances cause mild irritation, while larger doses could lead to breathing issues. In other cases, exposure could lead to long term-health effects, like an increased risk of cancer. To avoid workplace exposure hazards, companies should take proper steps to avoid and address any concerns. This might mean taking specific safety measures, like providing masks or ventilation, or changing a workplace process to avoid overexposure.

But what happens when the exposure affects people other than the workers?

Coincidence?

A city in Hawaii is pondering this question. In the past six years, three children in Waipahu have been diagnosed with either osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma. In all three cases, the children’s fathers work or worked at the same fire station, located in an industrial area. This seems to suggest that a dangerous substance, either from the nearby area or at the fire station itself, caused the cancer. The exposure potentially occurred when the children visited their fathers at work. It is also possible that the workers were exposed and then carried it back to their homes on their clothes or skin.

Workplace Exposure and Workers’ Compensation

The Department of Health in Hawaii asserts that the connection is probably just a strange coincidence. But if they find that the workplace lead to an increased cancer risk for the firefighter’s children, they will likely want to take some kind of action. Since the potential exposure affected the children of the workers, not the workers themselves, a case like this would be difficult to pursue under Workers’ Compensation laws.

This is a rare case. While it likely falls outside the scope of Workers’ Compensation, it does raise questions—and concerns—about the dangers of hazardous exposure in the workplace.

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

 

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