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Chemical that causes occupational disease may affect welders

Workers in Colorado and elsewhere are often exposed to hazardous chemicals. Those who are employed in industries where stainless steel and chromium alloy steel are welded will be exposed to dangerous levels of hexavalent chromium if they are not protected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says hexavalent chromium is formed by welding steel that contains chromium metal, and exposure can lead to an occupational disease.

After receiving a complaint about unprotected workers, OSHA inspected a company in another state where such welding activities exposed workers to hexavalent chromium. According to the agency, consequences of exposure include damage to the skin and eyes of workers, along with respiratory damage and even lung cancer. It further stated that failure to protect workers is inexcusable, as 50,000 workers lose their lives every year as the result of exposure to dangerous chemicals.

OSHA stated that engineering controls to monitor chemical levels are available, but the company failed to install such controls. In addition to the violations related to chemical exposure, OSHA cited the company for not addressing hazards that could cause amputations or cause workers to be struck by machinery. Furthermore, inspectors identified several electrical safety violations, and workers were operating industrial vehicles that were damaged.

Any Colorado worker who is exposed to hazardous conditions may ultimately have to pay the price if exposure leads to injury or an occupational disease. Even though an occupational disease sometimes only becomes evident years after exposure, affected workers are entitled to pursue financial relief by filing benefit claims with the workers' compensation insurance fund. Proving that a disease is work-related may be tricky, and the knowledge and experience of an attorney who focuses on protecting the rights of workers may be necessary.

Source: wsaw.com, "OSHA: Rothschild Manufacturer Fined for Exposing Workers to Cancer-causing Chemical", May 18, 2015

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