Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Formaldehyde poses workplace injury risks in more than morgues

There are likely some workers in Minnesota who are exposed to dangers of which they are unaware. Employers must protect their employees against workplace injury and illness hazards, and that responsibility includes keeping workers informed about known risks. Formaldehyde is such a hazard that is not only used as preservatives in morgues but also in many other industries.

The strong-smelling, colorless gas produced by formaldehyde poses deadly risks to anyone who works with plywood, paper product coatings, glue and various household items. It is also present in industrial disinfectants, germicides and fungicides. Workers can be adversely affected if they inhale the vapor or gas emitted by formaldehyde or if the skin absorbs the liquid.

Consequences of excessive or long-term exposure include severe irritations of the eyes, throat and nose, and it can even cause cancer. Lower levels of long-term exposure typically cause respiratory problems like asthma, along with dermatitis and other skin conditions that cause itching. Workers must also be made aware of the risk of death if formaldehyde is ingested.

Minnesota workers who experience any of these symptoms, even if they are unaware of formaldehyde exposure, should seek medical care immediately. The state-regulated workers' compensation system will cover medical costs and lost wages. However, proving that itching, respiratory problems and such are work-related might be challenging, but help is available. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the benefits claims process. This might even include investigating the possibility of undisclosed exposure to harmful substances like formaldehyde in the workplace.

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