A recent forum held by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration highlighted the risks exposure to hazardous chemicals and substances play when in comes to a serious or fatal North Carolina work accident.
Our North Carolina workers compensation attorneys understand the many factors involved in representing employees harmed by chemical exposure. Sometimes, there is an immediate health crisis, sparked by a spill or exposure in the workplace. But in many other instances it is the cumulative exposure over years or even decades that can cause serious health problems.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 390 employees were killed last year in work accidents resulting from exposure to harmful substances or environments. Another 113 died in fires or explosions. Nine fatal North Carolina work accidents resulted from harmful exposure and another nine from fire or explosion. South Carolina work accidents involving harmful exposure also resulted in 9 deaths.
But the government estimates that more than 55,000 are injured each year due to chemical exposure and more than 17,000 of such accidents will result in lost time away from work.
Perhaps most alarmingly, most of OSHA’s permissible exposure limits (PELs) were established when the government safety agency was founded a half-century ago. More protective regulations have been established for only 29 chemicals.
“Many of our permissible exposure limits are based on 1950s-era science that we now realize is inadequate to protect workers in 21st century workplaces,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. “We must assure the protection of workers currently exposed to well-recognized chemical hazards for which we have an inadequate PEL or no PEL at all. I am hopeful that this forum will assist us in achieving that goal by helping us to identify those chemicals on which we should be focusing our efforts.”
If you are dealing with a work accident in North Carolina or are dealing with a worker’s compensation or disability claim, contact the Law Offices of Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.