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Workers should be protected from exposure to toxins

Toxic substances pose a unique hazard in the workplace. Employers have a duty to make sure that they provide employees with the safety gear, procedures and knowledge they need to work as safely with these materials as possible.

Toxic substance exposure can lead to some very serious health issues, which is why specific limits for exposure have been established for many toxins. The health issues that each can cause varies. Some substances, known as carcinogens, have been known to cause cancer. Other substances might be flammable, which would pose a burn risk.

The limits for exposure to toxins are set in several ways. Some toxins have a lifetime exposure limit, which is known as a ceiling limit. Others have a time-weighted average limit, which is a limit that mustn't be exceeded within a specific time period (usually eight hours). Other exposure limits are also possible, so workers should be sure they know the limits for the materials to which they are exposed or handling.

Safety gear is another important consideration when dealing with anything toxic. If the toxin can be inhaled, workers should have appropriate, well-fitting masks, re-breathers or other protective gear. If the substance poses a risk of burns, damage to the skin or other hazard, gloves and other gear should be used.

If you are injured in any manner because of toxic exposure at your place of employment while you are carrying out your job duties, you might opt to seek compensation. Knowing how to handle these claims and understanding the finer points required to pursue compensation can help move your case forward.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances," accessed Dec. 14, 2016

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