Many Wisconsin employees are exposed to toxins at work. When workers are expected to perform jobs around hazardous chemicals, their employers should provide them with information about the toxins. Information about toxins and safe handling procedures is usually found in a ‘Material Safety Data Sheet.” An MSDS will tell workers about the health effects of a particular toxin, what protective equipment to use while working around it and how to safely dispose of it.
Though employers are legally required to let their employees know about workplace toxins and provide information about them, some employers may not have MSDS’s readily available. Information about a particular toxin can also be found on the warning labels that are attached to packaging. Workers may also search websites for information about the toxin that they are working with.
Employers should do everything they can do to limit their employees’ exposure to toxins. If possible, employers should alter processes so that they are performed with less hazardous materials. Worker safety may also be improved if hazardous toxins are isolated from workers with some type of barrier. Proper ventilation procedures can be used to dilute the concentration of airborne toxins in a work environment.
Some workers become ill after repeated exposure to small amounts of toxins at work over a long period of time. Injuries from toxins can also be caused by a brief exposure to very hazardous chemicals. An occupational disease that is caused by toxic exposure should be covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. However, since the disease may take some time before it manifests itself, victims may want to have legal assistance when pursuing their rightful benefits.