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Colorado hospital treats crime lab employees for drug exposure

On Dec. 15, two employees at the Denver Crime Lab were taken to a hospital due to suspected exposure to synthetic marijuana. The employees were reportedly transferring synthetic marijuana powder from a bag to a container when the bag burst.

Both employees complained of shortness of breath following the exposure. The lab summoned help from emergency officials for fear that inhaling the synthetic substance could be harmful to other employees as well. Fire crews were able to contain the liberated powder. Authorities reported that the two hospitalized employees are expected to fully recover from the incident.

Synthetic marijuana is a particularly dangerous substance that is not consistent with natural marijuana. In some people, the drug can cause seizures and hallucinations. Additionally, the drug has been associated with serious illness and death in the past.

In jobs that require workers to handle potentially harmful or dangerous materials, employers are responsible for providing proper training and updated protocols so that workers have internal guideposts to follow should an emergency accident occur. If the employer fails to do this and an employee becomes ill or injured, the employer's insurance company may field a claim requesting reimbursement for hospital bills and other damages.

Some insurance companies may deny the workers' compensation claim submitted by the injured worker. If this happens, the worker may wish to discuss the case with a workers' compensation attorney, whose retention alone may, in some cases, provoke insurance companies to reverse course and retract the claim denial. The lawyer will likely explain in everyday terms the options available to the injured worker. In the event that the lawyer cannot advocate the worker's claim during an appeals process, taking the complaint to a civil court in the form of a personal injury lawsuit may be a tenable option.

Source: CBS Denver, "2 Denver crime lab gets first-hand dangerous experience with 'Spice'", December 16, 2014

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