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Toxic skin exposure problems

While many Colorado companies take steps to protect workers from inhalation injuries from working with toxic substances, some do not take the same measures to prevent workplace skin exposures. Over time, skin exposure can lead to systemic toxicity, or poisoning spreading throughout the body, or to many other types of occupational diseases and disorders.

Chronic exposure can lead workers to have allergic or irritant contact dermatitis, infection or injury to the skin, skin cancers and a variety of other skin diseases. The most common type of work-related exposure problem, contact dermatitis, has annual costs approaching $1 billion across the country.

Workers in many different industries and across sectors run the risk of workplace toxic exposure. Those who work in such varied industries as cosmetology, food service, agricultural, cleaning, construction, mechanics, lithography and health care may all be affected. Skin may be affected through immersions, inadvertent splashes, aerosols and contact with contaminated surfaces. The effects of the chemicals depend on several things, including the person's skin quality, whether or not the skin was damaged, the length, location and duration of the exposure and the concentration of the chemical.

One issue workers may face is the underlying disease caused by the toxic exposure may not show up for months or even years. When it does, the worker may be eligible to seek coverage through filing a workers' compensation claim. In the event the employer or the employer's insurance carrier disputes the claim, the worker will need to be able to carefully collect the medical documentation needed to support it. As a workers' compensation attorney may have investigative resources available, those who have been injured by a workplace chemical skin exposure may benefit by seeking the assistance of such an attorney.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Skin Exposures & Effects", December 30, 2014

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