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Workplace injuries: Refinishing baths can be deadly

Employers in California are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. They must inform workers of the hazards posed by their jobs, and teach them how to protect themselves from suffering workplace injuries. Safety authorities note that exposure to methylene chloride kills workers each year. It is a dangerous chemical substance used for the refinishing of baths.

Those who died were overwhelmed by methylene chloride fumes because they worked alone in bathrooms with poor ventilation and without adequate respiratory equipment. Methylene chloride is an organic compound that is volatile, and the hazardous vapors build up rapidly in small areas. The evaporated chemical can gather in the bathtub, and it could replace oxygen.

Inhalation of methylene chloride can cause fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakness, numbness and irritation of the eyes and upper respiratory tract. The worker might find it difficult to concentrate, and if these symptoms are ignored, the worker might suffocate, lose consciousness, lapse into a coma and die. Other potential consequences of inhalation of these hazardous vapors are hepatitis and optic neuropathy. Skin contact over a prolonged period can cause chemical burns or irritation.

Victims of chemical exposure or other workplace injuries could pursue financial assistance through the California workers' compensation insurance program. The claims process can be challenging, but help is available. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide the support and guidance necessary to obtain benefits. The benefits will cover medical costs related to the workplace injury along with a financial package that will make up for a percentage of lost wages.

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