Illinois employers that have hazardous chemicals must provide personal protective equipment to any employees who work around them. Workers who are sickened or injured because of workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals may file claims for workers’ compensation benefits.
Common Types of Hazardous Chemicals
Many companies have a variety of hazardous chemicals on-site, including cleaning chemicals, chemicals used during the manufacturing process, and byproducts of production. These might include some of the following types of chemicals:
- Industrial disinfectants
- Industrial cleaners
- Heavy metals
Depending on the nature of the work, businesses might also have solvents, laboratory chemicals, and other hazardous substances within their facilities.
Symptoms of Exposure
People who are exposed to hazardous chemicals at work may suffer many different symptoms depending on the type of substance they have been exposed to. These include respiratory distress, chemical burns, nervous system disorders, and birth defects in their children. When chemical exposure at work is suspected as the cause of a worker’s symptoms and medical condition, the worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Employers are required to follow regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when they have hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Some of their responsibilities include the provision of PPE to workers whose jobs require working around hazardous chemicals. Chemicals must be clearly labeled and stored safely. Workers must be provided with good ventilation to prevent contact and inhalation exposures. Employers must train employees in the safe handling of chemicals in the workplace and should have safety data sheets about each dangerous chemical present in the facility. Activities like using industrial disinfectants or spraying pesticides to prevent pest infestations should be performed during a company’s off-hours to limit the number of employees who might be sickened from these types of chemicals.
Workers’ Compensation for Exposures
When a worker learns that his or her illness or injury was caused by workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals, he or she should notify the employer as soon as possible to report the injury and file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits. Medical records demonstrating that the illness was caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace may be important for proving that the injury occurred in the workplace instead of another location.