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Exposure to mercury causes workplace illness in New York

Friday, February 3, 2017

A New York company that endeavors to eliminate the threat posed by hazardous waste on the environment has been found to be oblivious to the life-threatening dangers to which its workers are exposed. An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was launched after complaints were filed by employees of Environmental Remediation Services. Upon completion of the inquiry, OSHA reported that the employees of the company were exposed to chemicals that could cause workplace illness.

OSHA investigators determined that employees were exposed to mercury during operations at an electric power and water plant in New York. While workers were removing mercury from the plant, they were reportedly exposed to excessive mercury vapor levels that were absorbed or inhaled. Liquid mercury was also absorbed through the workers’ skins.

According to the OSHA report, the company failed to protect workers by assessing the hazards and then providing protective equipment and addressing ventilation problems. The agency determined that the resulting workplace illnesses suffered by employees could have been prevented if the company managers had not refused to monitor exposure to mercury. The final report indicates that the consequences were preventable, and a $142,200 penalty was proposed.

While this New York Company will likely pay the fine and be done with it, the victims of the toxic waste exposure may have long-term medical problems. A workplace illness can cause extended periods of absence from the job and substantial medical expenses. To help victims cope with these unanticipated financial obligations, the workers’ compensation insurance system provides benefits that will cover the costs of medical treatment and a percentage of lost wages. Proving that such an illness is work related may be difficult, and the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may be helpful.

Source: ohsonline.com, “Employees Needlessly Sickened When Employer Exposes Them to Mercury Poisoning“, Aug. 5, 2016

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