Lead Exposure on the Job

Workers' Compensation Lawyers Assisting Victims in the Chicago Area

Lead exposure on the job can result in lead poisoning, which can occur rapidly if you have faced exposure to large quantities of lead. Lead exposure can be a result of breathing in fumes and dust that include lead, and it can also happen when somebody ingests lead due to makeup, food, tobacco products, or hands with lead on them. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, our Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to help you obtain benefits for disabilities arising from lead exposure on the job.

Injuries Caused by Lead Exposure on the Job

Workplaces that may involve lead exposure include car repair, lead smelter work, construction, abatement work, precious metals refining, battery manufacturing or recycling, bridge or highway painting, radiator repair, ceramics, stained glass work, furniture refinishing, art restoration, indoor target practice, and fishing.

Often, people associate workers' compensation benefits with disabilities that are caused by a single accident, such as a car crash, a slip and fall, or an equipment malfunction. They may associate it with repetitive motion, as with carpal tunnel syndrome, which is often experienced by secretaries and receptionists. However, harmful chemicals, including very common substances such as lead, can cause disabilities. Lead poisoning is a risk in many different workplaces, and many workplaces contain unsafe levels of lead, even though lead has been banned for the purposes of constructing American houses. People who work on older structures are often at particular risk, as are miners and people in the manufacturing sector.

You can suffer ill effects from lead exposure after just a few days. There are procedures that can be followed to reduce the exposure risks, such as decontamination procedures. Decontamination towels can eliminate 98% of lead residue from your skin after you have handled lead on the job. Generally, however, all unnecessary handling of lead should be avoided.

If you suffer job-related lead exposure, a job injury lawyer may be able to secure benefits for you under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. This law was put in place to remove the obstacles in place in civil lawsuits. It removed the defenses that employers traditionally had against lawsuits for damages brought by injured employees. For example, your benefits will not be reduced or removed even if you were partially to blame for the lead exposure. If your employer provided lead decontamination towels, but you did not use them, your failure to use them will not reduce the amount of benefits that you can receive, as it might in a personal injury lawsuit.

However, it can be hard to show that lead exposure was job-related unless there are multiple employees who have suffered ill effects from lead exposure. Generally, it is easier to show that injuries arose from a single incident that others witnessed, such as a fire or an object falling on you. If you believe that your lead exposure was work-related, you should provide the employer with notice of your ill effects or lead poisoning within 45 days of suffering the injuries. After the employer knows that you have suffered from lead poisoning or other ill effects, the employer is supposed to let its workers' compensation insurer know about your injury. When you are unable to work for at least three days, the employer must also report the exposure to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.

You should seek treatment for lead poisoning. In more severe cases of lead poisoning, you may receive chelation treatment, in which medication is provided by mouth and bonds with the lead in the body to be excreted in urine. You might also receive EDTA chelation therapy, which involves an injection of a chemical called calcium disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). You can choose the doctor or hospital that you want to use under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. You can choose your own emergency care and two doctors or hospitals to treat you for job-related lead exposure. However, you will need the employer's approval beyond those two choices.

Consult an Experienced Job Injury Attorney in the Chicago Area

If you faced injuries or harm due to lead exposure on the job in Chicago, you should consult a workers' compensation attorney who can fight for benefits on your behalf. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent injured workers in Quincy, Rockford, Champaign, Springfield, and Aurora, as well as other cities in Adams, Winnebago, Champaign, Sangamon, Kane, and Cook Counties. You can call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.