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Columbus Injured Worker Legal Blog

How employees bring toxic exposure home with them

Workers in Ohio and throughout America who are exposed to toxic substances may face an increased risk of getting sick. A report found that workers may be coming home with traces of toxic material on their bodies or clothes. This can cause health and development problems for children of all ages, and it could also be a hazard to others who have compromised immune systems. The report stressed that worker carelessness isn't necessarily to blame for the problem.

In some cases, workers don't feel as if they can talk about potential hazards caused by exposure to toxins. Undocumented immigrants may not raise the concerns that they have with their employers for fear that they could be deported or experience other negative consequences. Other workers who don't benefit from employment protections may also refrain from speaking out in an effort to retain their jobs.

Lab workers face dangers on the job

Lab workers in Ohio and around the country may be concerned about their safety on the job, especially if they regularly handle potentially dangerous chemical or biological agents. Toxic exposure can lead to occupational diseases and serious workplace injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has created specific standards to protect the over 500,000 laboratory workers across the country. These standards can apply to a range of laboratory work environments, including academic facilities, chemical storage rooms, waste handling areas, and receiving and loading docks.

These workplace safety standards apply to all labs where workers handle some form of hazardous chemicals. According to the OSHA regulations, employers must name a trained chemical hygiene officer to create a safety plan for the laboratory. This can also include making sure that all workers who may interact with toxic substances are properly trained and provided with the correct personal protective equipment to minimize the risk of hazardous exposure.

Potential risks of coronavirus on the job

Ohio workers may have a number of concerns about health and safety on the job, but one of them is getting attention around the world: novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. Whenever a new viral disease emerges on a global scale, new analysis can be important to determine how it could affect workers on the job. Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus developed, has seen severe restrictions on public activity and interaction in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading. Health care workers, however, have remained at particular risk. Official records note that 16 health workers were already infected as of early February 2020, some of them before the new disease was fully identified.

The World Health Organization has declared that novel coronavirus is a global health emergency, and the Chinese government is taking extensive efforts to stamp out the virus. Still, coronavirus has already spread due to travel, especially before people realized that they were sick or that the new virus existed. There have been several cases of coronavirus confirmed in the U.S. and Canada. Workers may be particularly concerned about their rights if they develop coronavirus on the job or due to exposure mandated by their profession.

Administrative law judges argue new rule may be illegal

A newly proposed rule by the Social Security Administration could negatively impact people in Ohio and around the country who apply for Social Security Disability benefits. If the rule is enacted, people whose initial claims are denied will no longer be able to have their appeals heard outside of the Social Security Administration by administrative law judges.

A majority of the applications for SSD benefits are initially denied. People then have a right to appeal the agency's decision and to have it independently reviewed at hearings before an administrative law judge. ALJs do not fall under the SSA's umbrella and are independent. However, the new rule would bring the appeals hearings under the agency's control, and some of them could be decided by hearing officers instead of ALJs.

Should you file for workers' compensation or disability benefits?

When you suffer an injury on the job, it can affect virtually every area of your life. You may not be able to continue with your job, and on top of that, you could be facing medical bills that just keep piling up. How can you pay these bills and meet other financial obligations when you aren't bringing in a paycheck?

Injured workers often need financial support to help with their recovery needs. Recovery can be long and expensive, taking a toll on your whole family. What happens if your injury is such that you may not be able to return to your job? What happens if you will be out of work for years? In this case, you may have a valid disabling condition, qualifying you for other types of benefits. It's not easy to know what benefits you may be able to get or if you are even eligible.

Should your employer be protecting you from silica dust?

Some jobs come with certain risks, including the risk of exposure to toxic materials. In high-risk occupations, it is especially important for employers to protect the interests of their workers by providing a reasonably safe environment. Depending on the type of job you have and where you work, one of the things your Ohio employer should be doing is protecting you from silica dust exposure. 

Estimates suggest that as many as two million workers face exposure to silica dust every year. This means that two million people could be facing a higher risk of developing an illness that could have significant and long-term impacts on their lives. Thankfully, there are steps businesses can take to ensure that workers don't experience unnecessary exposure.

Construction workers threatened by poor air quality

Construction workers in Ohio may face a number of hazards on the job, from unsafe working conditions to unstable equipment to poor air quality. During a construction project, workers can be exposed to toxic chemicals, silica dust, gases and other contaminants. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has created recommendations for acceptable indoor environmental quality during a building or renovation process. There are several factors that could contribute to dangerously poor air quality on a construction job, including a lack of action to control dust or the use of building materials that emit a significant amount of gases or contaminants.

Workers should have access to proper personal protective equipment in order to avoid dangerous levels of toxic exposure on the job. Renovation and building projects can expose workers to vapors, biological contaminants and other dusts, especially if they frequently inhale these substances. Workers who are affected by occupational contaminants may immediately experience eye irritation, congestion, headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Exposure to some of these substances can lead to long-term risks of occupational disease as well, such as silicosis from frequent exposure to silica dust from sanding and grinding. Other workers may develop asthma, especially if they work in environments contaminated with mold.

How disability cases are decided

Ohio residents who have a frozen shoulder may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. However, this assumes that there is medical evidence to support the diagnosis. Furthermore, they must be able to show that they have not been able to work for the past 12 months or will not be able to over the next 12 months. An examiner will consider the impact that the injury has on an applicant's ability to obtain gainful employment.

A person who has bilateral frozen shoulders may be approved for benefits based on that impairment alone. However, others may need to show that other impairments along with a frozen shoulder make it difficult to obtain employment. A person's age, education and previous work history will likely be used to determine what type of work he or she may be able to do.

How breweries can better comply with OSHA rules

Craft breweries in Ohio and throughout the country must generally adhere to safety standards set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, there are some safety standards that breweries have historically had trouble staying in compliance with. For instance, those who are asked to clean silos, mash turns or kettles are typically working in what OSHA would consider to be a confined space.

A confined space is an area that is not designed for a person to spend a significant amount of time in. In some instances, a worker may need a permit to enter or exit a confined space. If a worker doesn't have the required permit, it could result in a citation. Citations could also be issued if a brewery lacks an atmospheric inspection or emergency rescue plan. Breweries may also be cited if they don't have a general workplace safety plan.

Does anxiety qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

The truth is there is rarely a claimant who attends a Social Security Disability hearing that does not suffer some degree of anxiety. People only file for Social Security Disability benefits when they are no longer able to work and worrying about how they will be able to pay for their living expenses. However, there are some types of severe anxiety that go beyond these concerns and worries and become medical conditions of their own.

Severe, documented anxiety disorders can qualify a person for Social Security Disability benefits. To convince the Social Security Administration, the applicant must show the disorder through hard evidence. Anxiety cannot simply be verbally diagnosed by the claimant.

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Philip J. Fulton Law OfficeRepresenting Victims Of Workplace Injuries And Disability

89 East Nationwide Boulevard
Suite 300
Columbus, OH 43215

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