Common hazardous and toxic exposures on the job
All Mississippi workers are exposed to at least some injury and illness risks on the job. Professions that involve working with hazardous or toxic chemicals are particularly dangerous. Workers in some professions are regularly exposed to toxins in the air they breathe.
Workers who become ill as a result of toxic exposure at work can file for workers' compensation. However, the process to get it is complex and often fraught with pitfalls. Here's what you need to know.
Sources of toxic exposure
Most jobs that have high incidences of toxic exposure are physical, hands-on jobs that involve working with potentially toxic materials. For example, laborers who are involved in sandblasting, drilling, mining, masonry, pavement manufacturing, or demolition work may be exposed to respirable crystal silica dust and develop silicosis. People who have worked in glass production, mining, battery manufacturing and recycling, shipbuilding, welding, and other professions that involve materials containing lead are at increased risk of lead exposure.
Beyond high-risk jobs, any workplace can become dangerous if it is not properly maintained. Toxic mold can grow in a building's duct system, or a chemical leak can expose workers to dangerous toxins. Regardless of how it happened, if your toxic exposure occurred while you were on the job, you have a right to workers' compensation.
How workers' compensation works with toxic exposure
In the workers' compensation system, there are two general types of claims. Industrial accidents are incidents that happen at a single point in time (say, you fell and broke your leg at work). Occupational diseases happen over a period of time. Illness due to toxic exposure generally falls into the second category. In order to receive workers' compensation, you generally need to report the illness between 30 days of the day you become aware it's work-related, or you reasonably should have known it was work-related.
That means the best practice is to report the illness as soon as possible. Remember, you need to tell your supervisor, human resources dept., or follow whatever the standard procedure is for reporting an injury at your workplace. Don't just tell a coworker or someone outside your chain of command. Make sure you report the illness in writing. Keep a copy for your own records so there's no future question of whether it was properly reported. See a doctor promptly and make sure you follow your doctor's instructions.
It's also important that you contact an attorney experienced with workers' compensation claims as soon as possible. Any injury that happens over a period of time is an opportunity for the insurance company to dispute or downplay your claim. Toxic exposure is no exception. They may question whether your illness is truly work-related or argue that a particular treatment is not reasonable or necessary. We know how to advocate for the full amount of compensation you need and deserve.
If you've been exposed to toxic chemicals at work, we'd be honored to meet with you for a free consultation. Attorneys Jonathan Tabor and Leigh-Ann Tabor will fight to protect your legal rights.