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Exposure to toxic materials can harm workers

Louisiana employees are entitled to a safe workplace regardless of their occupation. This is especially true if they are exposed to hazardous or toxic materials during their work day.

Many workplaces will have some toxic materials on hand. Sometimes it might only be a cleaning fluid, but materials can be so toxic that exposure to them can cause serious health problems. Employers are required to provide employees with information about hazardous or toxic materials. At the very least, this information must include details about the type of hazardous material, its toxicity, how to handle it safely and what to do if a worker is exposed to the substance. Employers should also provide this information on any tools, equipment or other substances used that contain the toxin.

This information is usually contained in a Material Safety Data Sheet. Workers should be familiar with the MSDS's contents before working with a hazardous substance. If an employer does not provide MSDSs on hazardous substances, an employee may be able to find this information on line. Workers can limit their exposure to toxic substances by working in a well ventilated area, using a barrier between them and the substance or by seeking a less dangerous replacement. They could also wear protective equipment.

Exposure to toxic substances can cause workers to contract occupational disease. These illnesses may be covered by workers' compensation, just as a workplace injury would be. However, some employers might attempt to dispute the claim and say that the illness was due to a worker's lifestyle. This is why having the representation of an experienced attorney might be advisable.

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