Working on a construction site is risky on numerous levels. There is always the possibility of a fall when using ladders, being hit by construction equipment, or injury due to misuse of tools or machinery.
However, one risk that is not always so obvious is exposure to hazardous materials, some form of which are found on almost all construction sites.
Depending on the type of hazardous material, the consequences of such exposure may not show up for a considerable length of time, even decades, such as if it involves asbestos fiber inhalation and the development of the cancer known as mesothelioma.
The Most Common Hazardous Materials on Construction Sites
While the types of hazardous materials found on a site vary according to the individual property, construction workers often find themselves exposed to these common, potentially devastating items:
- Toxins: These may include gasoline, industrial solvents, carbon monoxide related to machinery, and hot tar. These materials may affect brain and nerve function, as well as damaging the kidneys, heart, liver and eyes. Down the road, exposure to toxins could cause cancer and premature death.
- Mold: When moisture is trapped in buildings, mold is the result. Inhaling mold spores can lead to asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. It is especially dangerous for those workers who already have some degree of respiratory compromise.
- Mineral fibers: These man-made materials include substances derived from glass, ceramics and other minerals. Permanent damage may result when mineral fibers come into contact with eyes, lungs or skin.
- Dust: Virtually every construction site generates a lot of dust. Repeated inhalation can lead to lung and respiratory diseases. The most dangerous type of dust is that from silica, which may affect workers dealing with concrete or sandstone. Because silica dust is especially fine, it can become permanently lodged in the lungs and respiratory tract, eventually leading to asthma or lung cancer. Wood dust inhalation also damages lungs, as does dust from marble and drywall, although the latter two are somewhat less dangerous than wood dust.
Construction Worker Protection
Under federal and state laws, employers have a duty to protect their workers from exposure to hazardous materials. This includes providing employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) to help them avoid these hazards. Common personal protective equipment on the job includes gloves, goggles, face masks, helmets, and respirators.
Workers must also receive instruction in the best practices for dealing with potentially hazardous materials, such as dust control via constant vacuuming and maintaining a fresh air flow. Employers who fail to provide protective equipment and education on dealing with hazardous materials on the job are violating federal and state laws.
Workers should also ask questions if they suspect they are dealing with potentially hazardous materials, but have not received specific information on how to deal with these items.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Injured Construction Workers
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a construction accident, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Contact us online or call 215-569-8488 for a free case consultation. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County, and across Delaware and New Jersey.