When most people think of the phrase “work-related injury,” they tend to think of a physical one. But as our frequent readers know, work-related injuries come in all shapes and sizes and can include mental conditions like PTSD, and even occupational illnesses like respiratory conditions.

Whether it’s mental, physical or an illness caused by exposure to hazardous conditions, employers owe it to their workers to provide compensation for these injuries. Failing to do so can have serious consequences, such as litigation, because both state and federal laws ensure workers’ compensation benefits to employees who have been injured on the job and have provided sufficient enough documentation to prove that this was the case.

As we hinted at above, one way in which an individual may develop a work-related injury is through exposure to hazardous conditions such as exposure to toxins or chemicals. In some cases, as with exposure to solvents, health effects can be immediate such as dizziness, headaches or loss of consciousness. But health conditions can also be long-term as well and may include neurological damage or other serious impairments that could leave a worker disabled.

It’s worth pointing out to those who are new to our blog that symptoms that stem from the exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace aren’t always noticeable right away. In some cases, it can takes months or even years before the damage is noticeable, at which point it may be too late to correct the problem.

In the case of the BP cleanup efforts, a link has been found between the chemical used to disperse the oil and respiratory illness. Some believe that exposure to the chemical may cause workers who helped with the cleanup efforts to develop occupational diseases, many of whom may just now be presenting symptoms.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has taken steps to remedy this very serious problem by starting a discussion about ways to “[improve] approaches to managing exposures to hazardous chemicals.” That initiative is still in the works though, which means workers here in Ohio and across the nation will need to wait before changes are made to decrease the risk of occupational diseases caused by chemical exposure down the road.

Sources: The Occupational Safety & Health Administration, “Preventing occupational illnesses through safer chemical management,” Access June 18, 2015

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Solvent neurotoxicity,” F.D. Dick, Mar 2006, Accessed June 18, 2015

The Washington Post, “Study suggests chemical used in BP oil spill cleanup capable of injuring people and wildlife,” Michael E. Miller, April 7, 2015