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Understand the long-term risks of working with solvents

| Feb 21, 2020 | Workplace Injuries

Countless workers use solvents every day on the job, such as acetone for industrial coating and MEK in printing ink. Using these chemicals is just a part of the job for many workers in various fields of employment, but many of them can be hazardous to workers’ health.

Workers exposed to dangerous amounts of these common chemicals could suffer serious injuries in the long run, and they must be aware of the hazards they can pose.

Workers know the short-term effects, but new alert highlights long-term effects

Most who work with chemicals daily know the possible short-term effects that come with exposure, including:

  • Skin irritation;
  • Headaches;
  • Drowsiness; and
  • Nausea.

However, not many are aware of the long-term effects. Recently, the CPWR Center for Construction Research and Training published an alert to workers about the life-threatening effects of solvent exposure.

The report warns that long-term exposure to solvents can cause significant damage to:

  • The respiratory system;
  • The nervous system;
  • The reproductive system; and
  • The kidneys.

Some of these chemicals, such as benzene, have also been found to cause cancer.

Workers who suffer accidental injuries from dangerous exposure to solvents may collect workers’ compensation when a physician indicates with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the symptoms are at least in part related to the work exposure. 

All workers must take the proper precautions

Solvents are necessary for many types of work, including:

  • Industrial work;
  • Construction or manufacturing work;
  • Printing; and
  • Janitorial work.

No matter the inherent danger in certain occupations, an injury or occupational disease related to workplace exposure to solvents may be compensable and covered under Maryland law. 

Workers must take these risks seriously when working with solvents and it can be helpful to review the safety guidelines for the chemicals they work with frequently. They must also ensure they wear the proper protective gear, including gloves, eye protection and masks to avoid both the short-term and long-term effects that could result from working with solvents.

However, in the event of a significant injury, workers must first receive proper medical care and contact an attorney to ensure their rights are protected. 

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