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3 ways toxic chemicals can enter a worker's body

Workers and supervisors might both work hard to reduce on-the-job accidents such as slip-and-falls and vehicle accidents. Through safety training and personal protective equipment, workplaces might see a reduction in serious accidents. However, it is not uncommon for employees to suffer dangerous exposure without even realizing it.

Workers might face toxic chemicals on every shift without any knowledge of the danger. Exposure to asbestos fibers, silica dust or benzene could lead to serious diseases or fatal conditions including mesothelioma, skin damage and lung cancer. In general, toxic elements can enter the body in three ways:

  • Inhalation: Small fibers, particulate dust or chemical vapors can all be inhaled directly into the body. These chemicals might collect in the lungs or be distributed through the body in the bloodstream.
  • Skin contact: In general, liquid chemicals represent skin absorption danger. These toxic chemicals can cause skin irritation (contact dermatitis) or be absorbed into the underlying tissue and, ultimately, into the bloodstream.
  • Ingestion: By eating or drinking contaminated food, workers can put themselves at risk for serious consequences. The food and drink might have become contaminated by airborne particles, by contaminated clothing or by unwashed hands.

Additionally, a fourth method might occur, albeit less common - injection. If a needle or other sharp object punctures the protective garments and delivers the chemical directly into the body, a worker can find himself or herself in danger.

With any toxic exposure or workplace accident, workers are encouraged to examine their benefits. Workers' compensation benefits will likely pay for medical treatment or lost wages depending on certain factors. Do not hesitate to protect yourself and your finances.

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