Occupational exposure refers to a person being exposed to certain chemicals, substances, or materials as a part of their line of work. This type of exposure usually refers to inhaling substances that lead to respiratory illness such as occupational asthma. However, it can also refer to exposure to substances that are touched, absorbed through the skin, or ingested accidentally.
Occupational exposure conditions are often categorized into broader categories such as occupational diseases or industrial diseases. These are diseases that are associated with higher rates of occurrences based on the type of work involved (for instance, mining industries are often associated with certain types of lung diseases).
What Are Some Common Occupational Exposure Substances?
As mentioned, occupational exposure can involve a variety of different types of substances. Some common substances that are involved in exposure lawsuits include:
- Fungus and molds, and bacteria
- Saw dust and other fine dust physical by-products
- Various chemicals such as asbestos or silica
Some industries involve higher levels of exposure to certain toxic substances than others. For instance, welders may be exposed to more heated metal substances than, say, a carpenter who might be exposed more to sawdust. Ideally, workers should be informed of the various risks of exposure that are associated with their work before they begin training.
Are There Any Defenses to Occupational Exposure Claims?
Employers and contractors are often subjected to legal claims for occupational exposure injuries. In many cases, occupational diseases and illnesses are covered under state workers compensation insurance laws. Also, employers can often negotiate specific coverage plans under an employee contract.
However, in some cases, an employer can be held liable for injuries caused by negligence or recklessness. In such cases, the employee may be entitled to legal damages for their injuries. Damages may sometimes be limited or withheld if the employer can claim a defense. Possible defenses may include:
- Assumption of risk (the employee has continued to work even after learning of certain risks)
- Expiration of filing deadline (i.e., the employee waited too long to file a case)
- Occupational exposure limits – Federal and state laws may set limits regarding the amount of substances that can be present in a given area. The employer might not be liable if they conform to such limits and standards
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Occupational Exposure Laws?
Occupational exposure cases can often involve very serious, chronic medical conditions. These can cause a person to lose wages or the ability to work. You may need to hire an employment lawyer in your area if you need to file a lawsuit or legal claim involving occupational exposure. Your attorney can provide you with advice and representation for your case, and can also help you with the court process.