A life-long printer worker. A paint factory worker. An aviation gas refueler. What do these occupations have in common ? These are occupations in which workers are exposed to carcinogenic chemicals on a daily basis. They often work for companies who do not value personal safety of their workers. Companies express their lack of concern by refusing to invest in safety programs and issuing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves to their workers.
Many of the solvents that such workers use on a daily basis contain carcinogens. These chemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylene, and naptha cause cancers that do no manifest themselves until 20-30 years after exposure. These types of illnesses are known as “latency injuries”. To illustrate, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is associated with an exposure to benzene that can occur 25 years prior to the first manifestations of the symptoms.
Often times, a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) accompanies these chemicals. However, industrial companies are lax in educating their workers about the risks of such chemicals from the information on the MSDS. The MSDSs contain explicit warnings on the carcinogenic effects as well as pulmonary and respiratory dangers. There are several international organizations which issue warnings on carcinogenic effects, including the National Toxicology Program (NTP), IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), OSHA (Occupational Safety Health Administration), and ACGIH (American Conference Of Governmental Industrial Hygienists) . The MSDS will often cite these organizations when discussing the classification of the particular components of a product.
During a Texas toxic tort suit , a product liability attorney will examine the type of illness, and look to establish causation between exposure to particular chemicals over time and the disease in question. Usually, workers compensation laws would usually bar a plaintiff from suing his employer for injuries on account of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, unless the employer’s negligence was so gross and brazen as to overcome the presumption of no negligence. The injured worker can however go after the manufacturers of industrial chemicals on a falure to warn theory, especially if the MSDSs did not adequaely warn of particualr dangers associated with exposure.
Other inquiries by a San Antonio toxic injury lawyer will focus on the adequacy of personal protective equipment provided to the worker. The paint worker who suffers cancer many years after leaving the factory is often the worker who was provided a cheap paper mask rather than a true respirator with filters. The Texas toxic tort investigation will also focus on the core principles of Time, Duration, and Exposure amount. When was the worker exposed ? How long was he exposed to the material in question ? How much contact did he have with the chemical ? Chemical exposure has many avenues including the breathing of toxic vapors, skin contact, and rarely ingestion. Finally, was the chemical in question capable of causing the disease in question ?
If you suspect that industrial exposure has caused a terminal illness in you, a friend , or a family member, you must consult with a Texas toxic injury lawyer without delay as statutes of limitation are strictly upheld.