Health Risks of Hazardous Substances at Construction SitesJuly 17, 2018
Construction workers face a wide range of hazards when they go to work, from being hit with falling debris to slipping on wet surfaces to falling from scaffolding. Many construction sites also contain hazardous substances like dust, toxic fumes, chemical solvents, and other potentially dangerous chemicals that can cause serious health issues.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014, close to 2,000 construction workers suffered from skin and lung illnesses due to exposure to hazardous substances at work. By identifying the hazardous materials that are present at the worksite, appropriate steps can be taken to protect the health and safety of the workers.
Examples of the Most Common Hazardous Substances
There are a number of potentially dangerous substances that can be found at construction sites, which can cause health issues ranging from eye irritation and nausea to lung disease and certain types of cancer.
The following are some of the most common substances that are found on construction sites:
Mold: Mold grows in damp conditions, and can continue to grow and spread if moisture is trapped in the building. If a worker is exposed to mold over a long period of time, it can cause conditions like asthma, allergies, and respiratory problems.
To protect themselves against the effects of mold, workers should always wear the appropriate personal safety equipment, including respirators, goggles, and gloves.
Dust: While this may not seem like a hazardous substance, it can cause lung problems and other diseases if inhaled repeatedly over time. Dust should be vacuumed as soon as possible, and workers should avoid working in enclosed spaces, as the dust can accumulate much faster.
There are three types of dust that are commonly found at constructions sites:
- Wood dust: This comes from sanding and cutting wood. This dust can cause damage to the lungs.
- Silica dust: This is the result of sanding materials like sandstone and concrete. This dust can settle deep into the lungs, causing health issues ranging from asthma to silicosis to lung cancer.
- Lower toxicity dust: This comes from drywall, marble, and other substances, where it can cause damage to the lungs and the airways.
Man-made mineral fibers: These come from materials like ceramics, glass, rockwool, and other substances. They can be extremely irritating to the lungs, eyes, and skin, and can even cause permanent damage. Personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by the employer should be employed to protect workers from these hazards.
Solvents: Solvents are one of the most hazardous substances present at constructions sites, and are found in paints, adhesives, and cleaning fluids. They can affect nerves and brain function if inhaled, or when they come in contact with the skin.
Solvents can also cause irregular heartbeats, cancer, blindness, kidney and liver damage, and even death. Workers should use extreme caution when handling these substances, making sure to protect the skin and wash thoroughly after use. Work spaces should be well-ventilated, with plenty of fresh air.
Common symptoms from exposure to solvents include:
- Stomach pain
- Irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes
- Loss of coordination
- Cracked or bleeding skin
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Workers Injured by Hazardous Chemicals
If you have been exposed to hazardous substances at work, which caused you to become sick or injured, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will secure the maximum benefits that you are entitled to, protecting your legal rights every step of the way. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.