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Chrome plating may lead to development of an occupational disease

Business owners in Missouri have many responsibilities related to the safety of their workers. In addition to following the safety regulations that are prescribed by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers should inform their employees of potential threats that may cause an occupational disease. Many workers develop an illness such as cancer many years after being exposed to carcinogens of which they may not even have had knowledge of at the time.

OSHA recently issued citations to a company in another state where the nature of its activities is known to produce carcinogens. The company does chrome plating, and OSHA said that the owner was aware of, or should have known of, the dangerous hexavalent chromium dust that endangered the workers. Hexavalent chromium dust forms during the chrome plating process and settles on work surfaces and the clothes of employees.

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen, and exposed workers can suffer long-term effects such as kidney failure and lung cancer. Not only is this a threat to the health of the workers, but also their families. When the dust contaminates a worker’s clothes, the danger is transported to his or her home where family members are then exposed to similar hazards.

OSHA requires companies to communicate such hazards and the methods of control to their employees. In addition, appropriate protective equipment and clothing must be provided. Workers should be made aware of the importance of hygiene and proper housekeeping in areas where dangerous hexavalent chromium dust may form, such as work surfaces. Compliance by workers should be monitored, and medical surveillance should not be neglected. Some Missouri workers who suspect that their medical condition is an occupational disease that resulted from exposure to carcinogens choose to utilize the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to pursue compensation for medical expenses and lost income.

Source: wfaa.com, “OSHA: Dallas company exposed workers to known carcinogen”, Feb. 3, 2015