In today’s world, there are many jobs that involve some sort of chemical exposure. You can find this risk in almost any industry from healthcare to food service to factory work. Unfortunately, many chemicals can be toxic and even carcinogenic when people are around them for too long or when the concentration is too high.
If you work with dangerous substances at your job, it is important that you know the risks and what precautions your employer should be taking.
The Effects of Chemical Exposure
Depending on the type of chemical exposure, you can experience both short-term and long-term effects. Short-term exposure can cause skin irritation, nausea, headaches, and dizziness to name a few. Long-term exposure can cause birth defects, cancer, and even death. Some chemicals are only poisonous if you ingest them, while others can also harm you if you touch them or breathe them in.
Your Employer's Obligations
It is your employer’s responsibility to train you how to properly handle certain chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to label substances that might be toxic. Your employer must also use safety data sheets so that you know the details about what you are working with. Depending on the substance, OSHA sets limits to how much exposure is acceptable.
You should always keep chemical exposure in the back of your mind when you are on the job. You can protect yourself by being vigilant, wearing the appropriate safety gear and making sure your employer is complying with OSHA’s guidelines.