Our society demands the manufacturing, handling, and shipping of potentially dangerous chemicals to function. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has strict guidelines regarding the handling of hazardous and nonhazardous chemicals that are meant to safeguard employee health.
However, even the most exhaustive safety precautions may not be enough to prevent spills or other leaks from occurring. If you find yourself falling ill due to a chemical spill in your work environment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
An Issue of Fault
Say you’re a dockworker who operates a forklift around hazardous materials often, maybe even daily. In a brief lapse of attention, you raise your forks just an inch too high and puncture a tote of chemicals that pose an inhalation hazard.
Now say that you’re about to open the back of a trailer to unload supplies. Upon opening the trailer, you discover a toxic chemical was spilled in-transit, and you are exposed before you have a chance to react.
You’re entitled to the same workers’ compensation benefits in both of these situations. For the sake of workers, fault does not come into play when injuries or illnesses occur on the job. Regardless of whether you directly caused the chemical spill or the spill happened outside of your control, you’re generally always entitled to a workers’ compensation claim.
Making Your Claim
Get a record of everything, including the time, place, and cause of the spill.
Good record-keeping is essential if you want to ensure that the costs of medical treatments and subsequent missed wages are recovered.
First of all: see a doctor that is approved by your employer through workers’ compensation. Explain to them that your illness is a result of a chemical spill on the job.
Then, as soon as you’re able, report the spill and your exposure. Not only is the continued safety of the workplace important after a spill, but by reporting quickly, you ensure clear communication between you and your supervisors going forward. In this report—written or verbal—explain both the nature of the spill and your exposure.
Next, if there were any witnesses to your illness-causing exposure, get their names and testimonies as well.
Taking these steps is vital to ensuring your workers’ compensation claim goes through. It’s extremely difficult to get coverage for any medical expenses and lost wages if you don’t make the necessary reports in a timely manner.
Help from an Indiana Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Any work environment can pose a risk for exposure to hazardous chemicals, but you shouldn’t have to suffer needlessly because of an incident on the job. If you or someone you know has fallen ill because they were exposed to toxic chemicals in their work environment, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim. Our Indiana workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help.