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Toluene exposure can cause workplace illness

New York employees in various occupations may be exposed to hazardous chemicals without even knowing about it. Employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees. Workers must be informed of dangers they will face while working, including hazards that can cause workplace illness. However, safety training related to exposure to chemicals is often neglected, sometimes with tragic consequences.

One such hazard is toluene, which is an ingredient in many paints, adhesives and metal cleaners. It often goes unnoticed because it is clear and colorless. At room temperature, it vaporizes upon exposure to air. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that it can be recognized by its strong sweet smell once it has evaporated.

The symptoms to look out for include being tired, numbness in feet and hands, trouble sleeping and slow reactions. In women, it can also adversely affect their reproductive systems and lead to loss of pregnancy. OSHA recommends substituting toluene-containing products with water-based products. Safety authorities say toluene-based products must only be used when no substitute is available, and then spray application must be avoided. Proper ventilation is essential whenever this hazardous chemical is applied.

Workers in New York who are adversely affected by hazardous chemicals may find that the symptoms of a resulting workplace illness can develop over time. In such cases, it could be a challenge to prove that the condition is work-related. This is where the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney can be invaluable. A lawyer can navigate the claims process and make sure the necessary medical proof is obtained to document a benefits claim for coverage of medical expenses and lost income.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Avoid toluene exposure", Oct. 17, 2017

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