What To Do If You Are Exposed To Toxic Chemicals On The Job

There are a surprising amount of dangerous chemicals that you could possibly interact with on a job site. When any kind of dangerous chemical is present while working, it is the employer’s job to keep safety gear available and functioning, this includes: exhaust fans, helmets, goggles and full body suits.

Toxic Chemicals

Damage to the skin, lungs and even nerves or brain can result in serious long term injury and deserves to be compensated for correctly. To ensure the situation is handled in the best way possible it is important that you promptly take care of legal action involving the injury.

There are several factors that play into the procedure you take after being exposed to a toxic chemical on the job depending on how the situation occurred.

When evaluating whether to file for workers compensation or a personal injury claim you should first determine where the damage occurred, who was in charge of the location, and where a chemical was admitted from.

It’s important to also check that your employer has a Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) that will provide data on the chemicals that are on the work site. If they do not have this information available, which is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it can open up door to any additional legal action you may wish to take.

Workers Compensation Claim

In this route, any kind of injury on the job is entitled to a workers compensation claim, no matter where the fault lies. There is no proof necessary in the direction of employer’s responsibility, as long as the chemicals existed in the work place, and you can show that you were harmed as a result of their presence this can be filed for.

  • Try talking to your supervisor first; report the harm, as they will know more about how to handle the specific situation and chemical damage.
  • Go into detail, leaving nothing out when you report as it will help you legally down the road, and make sure you have witnesses names written down for a second set of evidence.
  • Next the obvious, seek medical treatment for the injury, especially with dangerous chemicals where leaving exposure as it is could result in greater damage over time.
  • Do not leave out when speaking to anyone treating you that you were exposed to the all/any of the chemicals on the job site to assist with the most appropriate next step and ensure their safety as well.

If you follow each of these points you should have no problem getting your compensation accepted.

Personal Injury Claim

Being exposed to chemicals on the job means you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit if it is against your employer. Any kind of blame you feel is necessary to be put on them should fall under a workers compensation claim as listed above.

But this is where the origin of the toxic chemical comes into play. If your injury is a result of another person or company, you are entitled to file a personal injury claim against the, in legal terms, “third party”.

This is different from workers compensation claim, as this claim has everything to do with providing proof of who is at fault for the injury, not just where it occurred.

  • Talk to your employer/supervisor to make sure the incident does not fall under workers compensation.
  • Line up evidence to prove that the “third party” is at fault, demonstrating that you have a case for a lawsuit.
  • Have witness’s names written down, provide proof that the workplace was controlled by a third party or that the appropriate chemical warnings/safety precautions were not displayed.

There is no reason for compensation to not be provided, whether it is from your employer or from a “third party”. Toxic chemical injuries can be life threatening and are not always visible right away, resulting in many years of medical bills. This makes it imperative to quickly analyze the situation and complete the necessary steps for any kind of compensation possible.




Rebecca Borchers works for a worker’s compensation insurer, and so often has to help workers in distinguishing worker’s compensation from personal injury. A resident of the Orlando area, she will often refer those seeking personal injury compensation to David Heil’s law office for legal help and representation. You can find more examples of her work on Google+.