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Published On: Wed, Nov 28th, 2018

Building a Safer Workplace by Limiting Chemical Exposure

Based on an annual survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that private industry employers in the industries of  manufacturing, construction, health care, transportation and warehousing, have had 45,800 fewer cases of nonfatal injuries and illnesses among full-time employees in 2017 compared to incidents from the previous year.

photo/ Clker-Free-Vector-Images

While this decrease is certainly good news for both employees and employers, going out for a day’s work may still be more hazardous than you think. According to DePaolo & Zadeikis personal injury attorneys, workers in the United States suffer 12,300 injuries each day and 4,500,000 injuries each year. In 2016, an American worker was injured every seven seconds which means that 12,900 workers were hurt per day and 4.7 million were injured per year, according to the National Safety Council.

Some safety issues and preventative measures are discussed frequently: the need to prevent slips and falls, ensure that equipment functions properly, and to make sure that protective gear is worn in dangerous situations. While these are of the utmost importance, there are other less spoken about safety hazards, often hiding in everyday products, that still pose a significant health risk to employees.

One such category is employees’ exposure to environmental hazards, most often in the form of chemicals. According to a report by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health administration some 30 million Americans are exposed to harmful chemicals in the workplace each year. The administration even calls chemicals “ubiquitous in the workplace environment in the United States and other countries,” and notes that there are over 650,000 hazardous chemical products in use in the US. MAny of these chemicals employees come across regularly, often assuming they are innocuous.

While many workers in workplaces which do not appear to deal with toxic or dangerous chemicals may assume that they need to be concerned about this threat, in reality, almost every workplace – from a business office, to a beauty salon, to a construction site, to a hospital – has hazardous chemicals on site. The simple reality is that chemicals are all around us, hidden in seemingly innocent products including air spray used to freshen the conference, candles lit for their pleasant scent, toxic cleaning products, and flame retardants found in the carpeting, on the couch, or in the chair padding.

While it is impossible to avoid all exposure to chemicals, there are some chemicals known to be particularly harmful to humans and the environment. It is therefore the legal and ethical obligation of employers to take all preventative measures possible and the responsibility of employees to abide by and help support these measures – for the safety and well being of everyone.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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