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Hazardous chemical exposure, workers’ comp benefits and a lawsuit

On Behalf of | May 9, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

A case involving exposure to a toxic cleaning fluid resulted not only in workers’ compensation benefits but also in an eventual lawsuit.

Taking such a case to court is rare but shows how serious work-related injuries or conditions can become.

Maintenance problems develop

In 2019, a technician at a top science lab in New York State was cleaning the supercomputer with trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic degreasing agent. This is a chemical that dry cleaners often use to remove stains. The technician developed cancer and, as a work-related illness, workers’ compensation awarded him $50,000 representing his exposure to the chemical plus $15,000 annually for lost wages.

A known contaminant

The technician stated that company management personnel knew about the contaminants and the danger they posed to the workers exposed to them. In addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits, he also filed a lawsuit against Dow Chemical, at the time the manufacturer of TCE, as well as the Department of Energy lab where he worked. He explained that lab management supplied him with the toxic cleaner without providing any warnings or protections. In the meantime, another former worker filed a similar lawsuit against the lab.

Next steps

If you are exposed to hazardous substances such as toxic chemicals, paints, solvents or even dust particles and you develop a work-related condition, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention, then notify your employer of the issue. Submitting a claim for workers’ compensation benefits can become complicated but you can rely on legal guidance to help you navigate the process and gain approval.

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