Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation for Waste Management Workers

Exposure to hazardous substances can have a severe impact on those who have been exposed, which is why asbestos abatement, such as by Nielsen Environmental, is crucial. Unfortunately, waste management workers are particularly at risk of being impacted by exposure to toxic substances. The consequences can be long-ranging and may even result in severe injuries, causing long-term harm to victims. As an employee, it may be in your best interest to pursue the benefits provided through workers’ compensation or even a lawsuit. A lawyer can help to strategize the next steps and answer the variety of questions victims are sure to have: 

Is it more dangerous to work in waste management than other professions?

Many may not realize that waste management is among the most dangerous of all professions in the US. Waste management workers are commonly exposed to dangerous and hazardous materials while on the job. When hazardous materials are not appropriately handled, inadequate training is administered, or an employer fails to provide the right personal protective equipment to employees, they may be in severe danger.  

Why is handling hazardous waste so dangerous for workers?

Hazardous waste contributes to air, water, and land pollution. Hazardous waste is harmful to the environment, but it is also detrimental to those exposed to such toxins. When handling toxic waste, accidents can surely occur. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces several environmental expectations for the disposal of toxins and hazardous chemicals. Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), there are many requirements when managing the storage and disposal of hazardous wastes. When an employer does not put measures in place to ensure the proper disposal of hazardous waste, employees might face exposure to toxic chemicals and hazardous waste. Exposure may result in serious long-term health issues, including cancer, respiratory problems, genetic defects, physiological malfunctions, and more. 

How can an employer ensure that employees disposing of hazardous waste are kept as safe as possible? 

Employers with employees responsible for disposing of hazardous waste should mitigate the risk of exposure to ensure that employees are kept as safe as possible. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency that ensures employees are provided with safe and healthy workplace conditions by providing training, education, and support. When an employer follows guidelines and regulations in place by OSHA, the EPA, and RCRA, they can reduce the risk hazardous materials pose to workers.

What impact does hazardous waste exposure have on an employee? 

When hazardous waste is not managed or adequately disposed of, there can be severe consequences. Exposure can result from inhalation, skin contact, and ingestion. Not only does exposure pose a risk to the environment, but humans who are exposed can be at risk for health problems as well. Employees may be at significant risk for injury and even death. 

How can a workers’ compensation lawyer assist?

Toxic waste exposure to waste management employees is, unfortunately, commonplace. For those charged with disposing of hazardous waste, exposure can be harmful. In some cases, exposure has resulted from poor ventilation or improper personal protective equipment. Chemical exposure can cause skin burns, neurological injuries, and lung injuries. In most situations, it may be in the injured workers’ best interest to pursue workers’ compensation as a way to receive help with medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, in some cases, if negligence was a factor, it may be appropriate to seek legal action in the form of a personal injury claim. This is typically an option when a negligent third party can be held responsible. Consulting with a workers’ compensation lawyer will play a critical role in reviewing the case and determining the most appropriate avenue to proceed. In some cases, employees may seek workers’ compensation benefits while also pursuing a third-party claim. 

The impact on a person who has been exposed to hazardous materials due to improper disposal or an accident can be devastating. The process of managing such a case and retaining the compensation that is rightfully yours can be complicated, and a workers’ compensation lawyer can help. Victims deserve to have their interests protected, which is why connecting with an experienced lawyer should be the first step towards taking action.