In a discouraging sign, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently revealed that in 2014, the number of private industry workers who died on the job from exposure to harmful chemicals or toxins increased. According to the data, 197 fatalities were attributed to chemical exposure in 2014, compared to just 142 fatalities in 2013, where chemical exposure was listed as the primary source of death. Although there was a decline overall in the number of workers who died on the job from other causes – but for whom chemical exposure was considered a secondary cause of death – more needs to be done to protect vulnerable employees.
Service providers are those who are most at risk, the BLS reports. In 2014, a total of 44 workers employed in the trade, transportation, and utilities industries were fatally injured from chemical exposure. By contrast, producers of goods were found by the BLS to be less likely to come into contact with dangerous chemicals. However, the construction industry led the way in 2014 amongst goods producers, reporting 31 chemical exposure deaths.
The BLS data shows that in both 2014 and 2013, exposure to coal, natural gas, and petroleum fuels proved particularly dangerous for service providers and goods producers, fatally injuring 28 workers overall. Additionally, exposure to oxygen and oxygen compounds, such as carbon monoxide, killed 23 workers in 2014 and 21 workers in 2013. Sewer and mine gas-related deaths declined in 2014, when just one worker was fatally injured following exposure to methane.
In an April 2015 report, the AFL-CIO argued that not enough is being done to protect workers from chemical exposure. The group called for greater oversight and regulation from government officials of those industries which pose the greatest risk of exposing their employees to harmful toxins and chemicals. Moreover, the AFL-CIO noted that the startling number of fatalities attributed by the BLS to chemical exposure does not take into account how many workers die each year from occupational diseases that progress over time. Long-term exposure to chemicals such as radioactive gas and certain arsenic compounds are known to cause cancer but can take many years to develop.
Whether exposure to chemicals led to acute injuries or a more progressive disease, if you have been rendered unable to work the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger will vigorously pursue a Workers’ Compensation claim on your behalf. Call 800-222-8792 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. With offices in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.