As a construction worker, you likely take steps to protect yourself from heavy machinery injuries, car collisions, and other accidents that put your wellbeing at risk when you’re on a job site. However, it’s equally important to protect yourself from inhalation injuries and illnesses while on a construction site. Inhalation injuries can build up slowly over time, eventually leaving you with an illness that is either fatal or significantly decreases your quality of life.
If you suspect that you’ve been injured by inhaling hazardous chemicals at work, you may be entitled to compensation. Discuss your situation in greater detail by calling Weaver Tidmore at 205-980-6065.
How Common Are Inhalation Injuries?
Unfortunately, inhalation injuries are fairly common among those working in construction, manufacturing, and other industrial settings. According to Occupational Health and Safety, almost two million American workers are at risk of silica exposure every year.
This risk is almost entirely limited to those who work in areas with high concentrations of airborne carcinogens, including construction sites. As a result, OSHA has adapted its regulations to allow lower amounts of airborne carcinogens per cubic meter of air. This forces workplaces to create safer work environments for employees, but unfortunately does little for those who have been exposed to hazardous chemicals daily for decades.
In addition to silica, there are many other chemicals and chemical components that can cause serious illnesses and injuries to construction workers. Common examples include:
- Asbestos, which is primarily found in toxic building materials found in old commercial buildings and homes
- Lead paint
- Cement dust
- Timber preservative chemicals
- Welding fumes
Side Effects of Inhaling Dangerous Chemicals
The side effects of chemical inhalation often take years or even decades to show up, which can make it difficult to trace an injury or illness back to your workplace. This is because the contaminants build up slowly in your body. As you continue to expose your body to the same chemicals over and over again, the body is no longer able to filter them out. This leads to buildup, which can cause acute poisoning in various body systems.
Side effects of inhalation poisoning include permanent brain damage, damage to your nerves, unconsciousness, pulmonary toxicity, and organ failure. Your senses of sight, smell, and taste may also be lost or permanently damaged. Down the road, exposure can also lead to infertility, chronic diseases, birth defects in babies born to injured parents, and cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
To recover workers’ compensation for a workplace injury or illness, you must be able to prove that your injury occurred at work. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of your physical health and respond to any changes in your health and wellbeing. Some signs and symptoms of inhalation injuries include:
- Changes in your breathing patterns
- Continuous coughing or wheezing
- A persistent dry throat
- Tightness and pain in the chest
- Chest infections
- Swelling in the face or neck
Any changes in your health, particularly signs of respiratory trouble, should be checked out immediately by a medical professional.
If your inhalation injuries are due to your line of work, you may be entitled to compensation. Depending on the details of your injury, that may include workers’ compensation or a personal injury claim against the party who exposed you to those chemicals. Workers’ compensation is the most common route, and it’s also the easiest option—you do not have to prove that someone was negligent, just that your injuries occurred at work.
You may also be able to pursue a personal injury claim against another party if your injuries were caused by their negligence. This may include contractors who are not employed by your company who failed to follow safety guidelines and repeatedly put you at risk of inhaling dangerous chemicals. You may also have a claim against the manufacturer of components including hazardous chemicals if they did not properly create or package those components.
Find Out How Weaver Tidmore Can Help
Inhalation injuries can permanently affect your quality of life, so it’s important to discuss your options with an attorney as soon as possible. The team at Weaver Tidmore can help you explore your options and pursue the compensation you deserve. Get started now by calling us at 205-980-6065 or getting in touch with us online.