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Toxic chemical exposure issues in the workplace

Colorado workers may be interested in some information about the seriousness of toxic exposure in the workplace. Due to the many types of skin disease and injuries possible and the large risk of exposure, employers should be taking serious precautions.

Across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 13 million workers are at a risk of coming into contact with some kind of toxic exposure to the skin. This can happen in many different types of employment, such as food service, construction and health care. The severity of the exposure can range from minor to very serious. On one end, there is contact dermatitis, either through an irritant or something that the worker is allergic to. This is the most common type of occupational skin disease reported by employees, according to the CDC, comprising as many as 95 percent of cases. On the other side of the spectrum, however, toxic exposure can cause cancer, skin injuries and other diseases.

This exposure generally comes from one of four categories: mechanical trauma, chemicals, biological agents and physical exposure. While exposure to chemical agents is the largest cause of OSDs, the others pose serious risks. Physical exposure to cold or heat or mechanical trauma in the form of friction or lacerations can cause severe workplace injuries. Exposure to biological agents can lead to diseases and parasites that infect the worker's body.

In cases where a workplace accident leads to an occupational injury or disease, an attorney may be able to help. The attorney might be able to file a workers' compensation claim on behalf of the injured employee in order to get coverage for lost wages and other expenses related to the injury.

Source: CDC, "Skin Exposures and Effects," April 30, 2012

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