Chemical Exposure and Construction Workman’s Comp

Two construction workers on site. Construction is field where workman's comp claims are more common.

Construction work is an essential field. Unfortunately, it is also an industry where many workers are injured on the job. From fall risks to crush hazards, there are many common work-related injuries in the field of construction. One of the risks construction workers face is exposure to hazardous chemicals. Depending on the type of exposure, workers can go years without requiring medical treatment. This makes filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits more difficult. Chemical exposure is a complicated area in the world of workman’s comp. As a result, it’s important to understand how chemical exposure impacts your potential benefits.

Dangerous Chemicals in Construction

Before diving deeper into how workman’s comp treats chemical exposure injuries and illnesses, it’s important to establish what sorts of chemical exposures can occur in the construction industry. Construction workers may interact with a variety of dangerous chemicals including:

  • Gasoline. Prolonged exposure to gasoline or exposure in enclosed spaces is a serious workplace safety issue and can cause organ damage.
  • Formaldehyde. This chemical is often present in plywood and carpeting and over time can lead to asthma-like respiratory problems. 
  • Paints. Paints include a variety of chemical compounds and can lead to health problems due to inhalation.
  • Carbon Monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. Exposure to this chemical can cause brain damage or death.
  • Asbestos. Although regulations have reduced asbestos exposure in construction, it is still a serious issue and can cause cancers such as mesothelioma.
  • Silica. Most exposure to silica is in the form of dust. Inhaling this chemical can lead to lung irritation and cancer.

Immediate Injury or Illness from Chemicals

Sometimes, chemical exposure leads to immediate workplace injury or illness. Working in an enclosed space and breathing in toxic fumes can cause instant damage or even death. Corrosive chemicals can lead to painful burns and rashes on your skin which require immediate medical attention. In some cases, chemical compounds create physical hazards such as explosions or fires.

In these situations, the injured employee files a workman’s comp claim just as they would for any other workplace incident. Filing this type of workers’ compensation claim is somewhat easier than for long-term illness cases, as the dates when injuries occurred are usually clear-cut. However, it is still important to have an experienced workman’s comp attorney to help you document all aspects of your chemical injury.

Workman’s Comp for Long-Term Exposure

The most difficult aspect of chemical exposure as it relates to workman’s comp is that the effects are not always obvious at first. It can take months or even years before you start to need medical treatment. This poses a problem for construction workers who need workman’s comp benefits to pay for costly illnesses they developed as a result of workplace conditions.

What can you do if you believe chemical hazards you encountered on the job contributed to your chronic condition? The first thing you should do is contact an experienced workman’s comp lawyer who can help you navigate the complexities of filing your claim. Never assume that you can’t receive benefits until you speak to an attorney about your specific case. They will then help you properly inform your doctor and your employer that your illness may be work-related.

Were you exposed to dangerous chemical compounds while working in the construction industry? At the Law Offices of Bo Katzakian, our workman’s comp attorneys will help you fight your case. We help injured workers in Northern California get the most benefits possible. Call us today for a free consultation and let us help you.

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