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Many hazardous chemical standards a half-century old; Georgia work accidents from chemical exposure an ongoing concern

Exposure to hazardous chemicals is an ongoing concern and a common cause of Georgia work accidents. While the federal government is working to improve safety, even the Occupation Safety & Health Administration admits it does not have a firm grasp on the dangers of chemicals in the 21st Century workplace.

Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys understand that exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace can result from a sudden accident or from long-term exposure to a dangerous chemical that results in serious or fatal health consequences.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 390 employees were killed last year due to exposure to harmful substances or environments; another 113 died as a result of fire or explosions. Georgia work accidents involving harmful exposure claimed 10 lives, while three others died in fires or explosions.

Each year thousands of others are injured by chemical exposure in the workplace. OSHA reports exposure can damage virtually all parts of the body, including lungs, skin, liver, kidneys, eyes and mucous membranes. The government reports more than 55,000 exposure events per year.

And that number is likely to be underestimated because the consequences of long-term exposure to numerous chemicals are frequently not recognized until years later.

When OSHA was founded half a century ago, it established 400 permissible exposure limits (PELs) for hazardous chemicals. Since then, more protective regulations have been put in place for only 29 chemicals.

“Many of our permissible exposure limits are based on 1950s-era science that we now realize is inadequate to protect workers in 21st century workplaces,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. “We must assure the protection of workers currently exposed to well-recognized chemical hazards for which we have an inadequate PEL or no PEL at all.”

OSHA held a forum on the issue this fall and said it is working on updating exposure limits for many of the chemicals employees deal with in the workplace.

The Atlanta work accident lawyers at the Law Offices of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., have the knowledge and experience to help clients obtain all of the benefits to which they are entitled under the Georgia workers’ compensation program. Our experienced staff will also carefully review the facts and circumstances of your accident to determine whether additional claims can be filed against someone other than your employer. For a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights, call 678-298-0323.