Workers in the petrochemical and the oil and gas industries in Texas are typically exposed to multiple safety hazards. Employers must inform employees of all the risks they will face, and although potential workplace accidents involving physical injuries might be covered in safety talks and training, chemical hazards do not always receive the deserved attention. Chemicals can enter workers’ bodies in several different ways, and only if they understand the possible routes of entry can they protect themselves.
The most common manner of entry is through inhalation, which could leave deposits in the worker’s respiratory tract and it could even enter the lungs and cause tissue destruction. Another entry route is absorption through the eyes and the skin. Chemicals gaining access through the skin could enter the bloodstream and start a systematic course of damaging organs. Entry through the eyes can cause anything from redness and watery eyes to blindness.
Ingesting chemicals occur when a worker inadvertently gets a chemical substance in his mouth and swallows it — even a single drop can cause harm. It can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, especially if it is a corrosive substance. However, some may enter the bloodstream through absorption from the digestive tract and cause organ damage. The least common route into a workers body is through injection, which is merely any chemical contaminated sharp object that punctures or pierces the skin and allows a path into the bloodstream.
Chemical hazards can be mitigated by engineering controls such as ventilation, barriers to block access, shields and filters along with respirators, goggles, gloves and other personal protective equipment. Texas workers might find comfort in knowing that, just like in any other workplace accidents, the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance system will have their backs. However, the assistance of an experienced workers’ comp attorney might be an asset because proving organ damage or other illnesses caused by chemical exposure to be work-related might be challenging.