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How to manage toxic exposure while on the job

It's the responsibility of all employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees to work within. Despite this, countless employees are exposed to harmful toxins either in the air or through contact on a daily basis.

Employers that house potentially toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials in the workplace are generally required by law to post what's called a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This sheet's supposed to advise workers of how to safely handle and also contain an unexpected exposure to one of these substances.

Generally, the MSDS describes what the potentially harmful material is and how toxic it's believed to believed to be. It also typically describes the health implications that an exposure to the substance may have on a worker both in the short and long term. It's supposed to include first aid procedures that an individual should follow if they suspect that they've come in contact with the hazardous substance as well.

Aside from describing the personal health risk the toxic material poses, it should also describe just how much danger it may have when mixed with other substances. It should include instructions for handling, disposing of, and storing the material also. Steps that should be followed if a leak or spill of the substance occurs should also be spelled out on the MSDS.

If you don't see a MSDS posted in your workplace, then there are other ways to know if you're working around harmful substances. You should be on the lookout for warning labels on product packaging or a sign posted in the lab warning of a decrease in quality ventilation instead.

Those who work in toxic environments should always wear protective clothing, including a respirator type of mask, when handling harmful substances.

Whenever possible, an employee should seek to minimize releasing toxins into the air or onto surfaces by following handling or isolation instructions called for on the MSDS. Workers should also look to substitute more toxic chemicals for less harmful ones whenever possible as well.

If you've fallen ill after undergoing a toxic exposure in the workplace, then a Modesto workers' compensation attorney can advise you of your right to sue your employer for current and future medical costs.

Source: FindLaw, "Toxic exposure in the workplace," accessed Nov. 03, 2017

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