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Workplace injuries by lead and copper can also affect loved ones

Georgia workers have the right to be protected against workplace hazards, and these hazards include exposure to toxic fumes. When employers fail to provide adequate protection, workers have the right to file a complaint with authorities. Such claims will be evaluated and may lead to an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A metal recycling plant in another state recently received several citations after OSHA acted upon a complaint about unsafe working conditions that posed threats of workplace injuries.

OSHA found that workers suffered exposure to excess levels of copper and lead fumes, and they received no level of protection. According to safety regulations, the company should engineer controls that will limit exposure. In addition, exposure should be measured and a warning posted in areas where workers would be over-exposed. The company failed to provide respirators that fit properly, and workers were not informed about the dangers or trained in how to use protection if it is provided.

A spokesperson from OSHA stated that not only the health of employees was threatened but also that of their families. He explained that lead is the cause of most workplace illness cases, and particles can cling to clothing and other materials, thereby affecting the health of loved ones at home. In addition to the threat of the dangerous fumes, the company was cited for failure to safeguard working machines and provide personal protection. It was also cited for its failure to recognize the danger of excess noise levels and monitor it.

Workers in Georgia who are suffering the consequences of exposure to dangerous fumes or other workplace injuries are entitled to claim benefits from the workers' compensation insurance fund. Workplace illness claims may prove to be tricky, and the legal assistance of an experienced workers' compensation professional may be needed. Such a professional will guide injured workers through the procedures in pursuance of compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: crainscleveland.com, "OSHA cites Republic Metals Inc. for 19 alleged serious health and safety violations", Rachel Abbey McCafferty, Dec. 18, 2014

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