While all workplaces come with a risk of accidents, some worksites are inherently more dangerous than others. For those who work in construction, manufacturing, or anyone working around toxic substances, injuries from dangerous chemicals are a real threat. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets strict standards to protect workers from chemical accidents, but nevertheless, accidents occur.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five toxic substances cause the most chemicals injuries each year. The top five most dangerous chemicals in the workplace include:
- Carbon Monoxide – Because carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, it poses an extreme risk to workers. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and even death. Exhaust, fuel-burning furnaces, coal-burning power plants, small gasoline engines, portable gasoline-powered generators, marine engines, forklifts, propane-powered heaters, gas water heaters, and kerosene heaters can all emit carbon monoxide.
- Ammonia – While ammonia is a colorless gas, it does have a distinct smell that can alert people to exposure. Ammonia is commonly used in the agricultural and food manufacturing industries both as an ingredient in fertilizer and as a refrigerant. Exposure to ammonia can cause irritation and serious burns on the skin and in the mouth, throat, lungs, and eyes. At high enough levels, exposure to ammonia can even cause death.
- Chlorine – Because chlorine is heavier than regular air, this toxic gas can accumulate near the floor in poorly ventilated areas. Chlorine is an incredibly diverse gas used in a host of different industries; however, most chlorine workplace injuries occur in the paper industry. Low-level exposure to chlorine can cause nose, eye, and throat irritation, but higher concentrations can cause chest pain, coughing, changes in breathing rate, vomiting, and even death.
- Hydrochloric Acid – Composed of hydrogen chloride in water, hydrochloric acid is a clear, colorless liquid. Hydrochloric acid is extremely corrosive. Airborne exposure can permanently damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines. If Hydrochloric acid comes in contact with the skin, it will cause a painful chemical burn as it corrodes the soft tissues of the body. Although hydrochloric acid has broad applications, most injuries occur in the transportation of the substance by chemical workers.
- Sulfuric Acid – Sometimes referred to as battery acid, sulfuric acid is a clear, colorless, oily liquid that is highly corrosive. Sulfuric acid can cause severe chemical and thermal burns when it comes in contact with the skin. If sulfuric acid comes in contact with the eyes, it will likely cause blindness. Sulfuric acid is used in many industries, but is a common ingredient in fertilizer and is a crucial part of the petroleum refining process.
Anyone working with or around dangerous chemicals needs to be outfitted with the appropriate safety equipment and should receive safety training from their employer. Failure to do so can cause workers to suffer severe injuries.
Adame Garza: Houston Workplace Chemical Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love has suffered chemical injuries in the workplace, call the experienced Houston workplace chemical accident attorneys at Adame Garza LLP today. We can analyze your case and help you understand your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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