Recently, workers were put at serious risk of illness as a result of inhaling mercury vapor. Safety News Alert reported on the troubling circumstances which led to the exposure of the employees, who were doing work removing chemicals at a Superfund site. The employer of the exposed workers, an environmental remediation contractor, is facing a substantial fine for exposing workers to the hazards.
When an employee is exposed to unhealthy chemicals at work, this exposure can cause serious illness and can sometimes be fatal. Workers who get sick because of on-the-job exposure should be entitled to compensation for medical expenditures, as well as to other workplace injury benefits. An Atlanta workplace illness lawyer can provide help in securing benefits, which can sometimes be difficult because work illnesses don’t always develop immediately and so it can be hard to prove the link between the job and the harm.
The environmental remediation contractor is being fined by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after OSHA received complaints about exposure to mercury from company employees. The employees told OSHA there was insufficient personal protective equipment and an OSHA investigation revealed employees were being put at serious risk. The employees were working on a superfund site, removing liquid mercury and removing soil and wood from the third and fourth floor of a power and water main plant which was contaminated.
In the course of the investigation, OSHA determined the employees both inhaled mercury vapor and absorbed excessive levels of liquid mercury and mercury vapor through their skin . The employees were already showing symptoms from breathing in mercury, including fever; fatigue; neurological impairments; loss of memory; gum damage; skin damage; a feeling of pins and needles in the skin; and tremors.
Because of the serious consequences of mercury exposure, the company was declared to be in violation of a variety of workplace health and safety standards. OSHA determined there were 13 serious violations, and one willful violation. Among the violations included a failure to train employees on safe practices; failure to inform employees about the level and risks of hazardous exposure; failure to perform monitoring of the air; and failure to implement safety programs. The total penalties for these violations added up to $142,0000.
When OSHA takes action and fines companies, the OSHA fines are intended to punish the violations and to deter future bad acts. OSHA fines do not compensate employees affected by the on-the-job issues. Workers who wish to recover compensation for exposure to toxic substances will need to pursue a workers’ compensation claim with the help of an attorney. Workers’ compensation benefits should be available for those who have suffered workplace illnesses, as long as the affected workers can demonstrate their job caused them to become sick. A workers’ compensation attorney can help workers to provide necessary proof to qualify for benefits.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.