There are many different professions where workers could be exposed to toxic substances. Recent research suggests that welding is one such job. Welders face a significant risk of developing a serious work-related illness because of dangerous substances that they routinely breath in when they are doing their work.
Welders who are made sick by their work duties should consult with an Atlanta workplace illness attorney. Employees who suffer symptoms of illness due to their jobs should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including having their medical bills paid in connection with their illness.
Some workers have a difficult time proving they should get benefits for their illness because it can be hard to show their symptoms actually are happening due to their work. An attorney can assist not only welders but any employee who is sick and who wants to make a workers’ comp claim due to the work-related health issues he or she is experiencing.
Welders Among the Atlanta Workers Facing Workplace Illness Risks
The troubling news that welders face a significant risk of workplace illness was reported by Safety BLR. According to Safety BLR, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine discovered that many welders were being exposed to high levels of airborne manganese and were getting sick because of it. The findings from the Washington University School of Medicine researchers were published in the journal Neurology.
The welders who are being exposed to airborne manganese face a greater risk of developing symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms were occurring in workers who were exposed to airborne manganese at a lower level than is permitted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This could suggest that OSHA standards are not strict enough to actually protect welders.
OSHA’s permissible exposure limit for airborne manganese is 5 mg/m3. Workers, however, were found to exhibit symptoms when exposed to just .14 milligrams of manganese per cubic meter of air. And, the more the welders were actually exposed to welding fumes that contained airborne manganese, the faster the workers developed symptoms and the worse those symptoms were.
The reason workers are exhibiting these symptoms is because the exposure to manganese as a part of the welding process causes a severe neurological disorder called manganism. Manganism can cause a person to experience mood changes, slowness, terms, clumsiness, sleep difficulties, and difficulty speaking. Both welding and steel-making naturally cause workers to be exposed to levels of manganese that can cause these symptoms to develop.
The senior author of the study expressed concern for welders due to the fact that OSHA’s permissible exposure limits are likely much too high, thus putting the health of welders at risk. The conclusion of the study author was that “reducing OSHA’s allowable levels of manganese would probably make a big difference in terms of [helping] safety and health workers avoid such risks.”
Unfortunately, OSHA has not had much success in recent years in adjusting its permissible exposure limits, and it is unlikely it will be able to do so any time soon due to the difficulty of passing new regulations, especially in an administration that has expressed a desire to reduce regulations. If no changes are made, welders are likely to continue getting sick and should talk with a workers’ comp lawyer for help if they do experience symptoms.