It’s the responsibility of every business owner to ensure that the workplace their employees operate within is both healthy and safe. As such, if there are any known toxins present that may put an employee’s health at risk, then it’s the employer’s responsibility to make their staff aware of them.
One of the ways in which employees are expected to be warned about potentially hazardous work conditions posed by toxins being in their workplace is through the posting of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
These serve the purpose of acknowledging the presence of a toxic material, adverse impacts it can have on an individual’s health and first aid precautions that can be taken if an exposure to it occurs. The MSDS also contains information about how to properly store, handle and dispose of the material as well.
Under most jurisdiction’s laws, the MSDS is expected to be posted on both products containing the hazardous material and the chemical itself. Any packaging that the product is shipped in or room that it’s housed in is required to be labeled with warning labels or signs noting there’s a potential toxin in the area also.
Since the full effect of exposure to certain toxins is still being discovered, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests different techniques may be appropriate when dealing with potentially hazardous materials.
One approach that the CDC recommends is companies isolating the hazardous material whenever possible in a glove box, soundproof room or handling it using robotic equipment.
Whenever possible, they note that a strategy of substitution, whereby a less hazardous material is used instead, should be implemented. If that’s not possible, then the CDC recommends that a well-ventilated room should be used to handle the material.
In cases like this, staff should be specially trained to handle these materials. Sufficient administrative oversight should be employed as well to ensure that proper handling procedures are performed. Making sure that staff is suited up in adequate protective gear before handling it is important as well.
It’s not uncommon that a significant amount of time may pass between an exposure to a toxic material and an employee experiencing declining health because of it. If you suspect that your health declined because of your employer’s improper handling hazardous materials, then a Dauphin workplace illness attorney can advise you of your right to file for workers’ compensation in your case.
Source: FindLaw, “Toxic exposure in the workplace,” accessed Jan. 23, 2018