Employers have an obligation to make sure the workplace is a safe place for employees. This means following all OSHA guidelines to minimize the dangers. Unfortunately, employers sometimes cut corners when it comes to safety. This can be especially true when the safety issue centers around exposure to a potentially toxic substance -- since mitigating the dangers of toxic exposure can be expensive and since the negative outcome of toxic exposure is not immediate.
Our New York City work injury attorneys know that toxic exposure in the workplace can make a worker very sick. While this illness might not develop for weeks, months or years after the exposure happens, it can change a workers life, make work impossible and be very costly to treat. Those injured immediately should make a workers compensation claim as soon as possible to try to obtain monetary compensation for medical costs and other statutory benefits available under New York's workers compensation laws. Latent cases, such as a mesothelioma diagnosis, will likely be handled through personal injury or wrongful death litigation.
New York Company Fined for Exposing Employees to Lead
OSHA regularly investigates worksites to try to identify employers who may be doing dangerous things, including exposing their employees to toxins or dangerous substances. Recently, OSHA identified one New York real estate development and management company that was failing in living up to workplace protection rules.
According to the OSHA regional news release, this company had workers performing demolition work in an older building. Unfortunately, the walls of the building being demolished contained lead paint. This is a very common situation in older buildings since lead paint was widely accepted for a long time. Any time a worker does construction on any older building, therefore, it is essential that his safety is protected from exposure to lead.
Unfortunately, the New York company cited by OSHA did not conduct monitoring and sampling to assess the lead exposure levels. The company also failed to provide respiratory protection and protective clothing or medical surveillance to workers who were exposed. Not only that, but the company did not even bother to train workers or to inform them of the risks that they were facing.
This type of egregious behavior put every worker on the worksite in danger of being exposed to an unhealthy and dangerous substance at work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that employers do this type of thing all too often, with a total of 401 workers in 2011 suffering fatal injury as a result of exposure to harmful substances or environments in the workplace.
While the BLS statistics include all types of exposure, BLS made clear that 130 workplace deaths resulted from exposure to substances that might be poisonous or chemicals that had dangerous fumes. In 57 of these cases, the worker inhaled the dangerous chemicals and was effectively poisoned to death as a result.
These types of deaths, as well as injuries and illnesses due to toxic exposure, need to be better addressed in the workplace. Employers can put an end to them by providing proper training and protection when working with potentially dangerous substances. If an employer fails, the employer may not only face OSHA citations but can also be held liable for all work injuries suffered by the employee.
If you've been hurt at work, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today for a free evaluation by calling (800) 692-3717.