As a construction worker, you know that your construction site is a complicated workplace with lots of different subcontractors trying to do their part to create a finished product. Everyone on the job site is dependent on everyone else to comply with local, state, and federal safety regulations and to take reasonable steps to prevent serious construction accidents.
One type of construction accident that can quickly and tragically affect a lot of construction workers is a chemical accident. Chemicals are found in adhesives, paints, cleaning materials, concrete, mortar, sandstone, glass, and ceramic materials, for example. A construction worker may be exposed to chemicals found in these products through vapors, gases, fumes, dust, and mists if proper procedures are not followed for the transportation, storage, and use of each hazardous substance.
When this happens, devastating injuries can result. Some of these injuries are immediately apparent, and some take longer to develop. However, whether you suffer a sudden illness or a gradual illness, your rights are the same and you may have the right to make a full and fair recovery.
What Chemicals Are Used on Construction Sites
Even if you are not working directly with chemicals, the following hazardous materials may be used on your job site:
- Lead. The welding or cutting of certain alloys, metals, or products previously covered with lead-based paints can lead to lead exposure on construction sites.
- Silica. Activities such as grinding, cutting, and polishing concrete, mortar, and sandstone can create silica dust which may be inhaled.
- Asbestos. Asbestos was once commonly used as insulation. Currently, it is only allowed to be used under strict regulation in the United States. However, the serious health consequences of asbestos exposure often take decades to develop and New York City construction workers may just now be getting sick after being exposed to asbestos in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.
- Zinc. Exposure may occur during welding or cutting of certain metals.
- Beryllium. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers may be exposed to this toxic substance when metal slags are used in abrasive blasting operations.
- Cadmium. Construction workers may be exposed to cadmium during welding and painting.
- Mercury. Mercury may be used in old light bulbs or to prevent rust on metals. Construction workers may be exposed to this dangerous substance during demolition work.
Anyone who is exposed to these chemicals may face a significant risk of injury. However, those risks may be even greater if you work in a confined space, if there is insufficient ventilation, or if important safety precautions are not taken by the contractor or worker responsible for the work.
Injuries That Can Result From Chemical Exposure on Construction Sites
If you breathe in, ingest, or in some cases touch certain chemicals then you may be at risk of suffering from one or more of the following injuries:
- Respiratory conditions including chemical pneumonia
- Neurological injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Skin diseases and disorders
- Birth defects
If you experience any symptom of illness including but not limited to breathing problems, stomach pain, headaches, or dizziness, then you should seek prompt medical attention so that a diagnosis can be made and a treatment plan can be developed.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt on a New York City Construction Site
If you have suffered a chemical-related injury on a New York City construction job, then you need to take action right away for two reasons. First, it may be easier to get the necessary evidence if you act quickly. Second, the sooner you make a claim, the sooner you may make a recovery.
You do not—and should not—take action alone, however. Instead, we encourage you to contact our experienced construction injury lawyers for help. We have been helping injured construction workers throughout New York City for more than four decades. We want to know what happened to you and we want to fight for your full and fair recovery. Contact us online or call us directly at 212.465.8840 today to learn more.