What are the Hazards Of Asphalt?
Posted in Construction Accident on December 12, 2019
Asphalt is a construction material derived from petroleum and is used in many different ways. This includes paving roadways as well as roofing and siding materials. Many people do not realize that heated asphalt presents serious hazards to workers. Those who work with asphalt, as well as their employers, must understand the dangers of the material and take steps to ensure worker safety at all times.
What makes asphalt dangerous?
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), more than 500,000 workers are exposed to the dangers of asphalt each year in the US.
Asphalt is derived from crude oil, meaning that the fumes can be dangerous, and the substance can cause traumatic injuries. When discussing how workers are harmed by asphalt, we will look at the following:
Fire and explosion dangers
Asphalt is stored and used at high temperatures that can cause explosions and fires. This can lead to serious traumatic injuries and burns for workers.
Dangers from fumes
Asphalt generates fumes that are toxic to workers. These fumes can cause headaches, skin rashes, throat and eye irritation, coughs, fatigue, and more. Long-term exposure to asphalt fumes can cause asthma, bronchitis, and even certain types of cancer.
It should also be noted that many of the materials and solvents used to work with asphalt can be absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream.
How to keep workers safe?
Exposure to various chemicals found in asphalt fumes is addressed in OSHA regulations and applies to general and construction industries. OSHA mandates that employers provide personal protective equipment for those working around asphalt, including respiratory protection. State agencies also mandate these protections.
OSHA also recommends that employers provide workers with thermally insulated gloves, safety boots, eye protection, and long sleeve shirts and pants.
In addition to providing every worker with the proper protective gear, employers should ensure that each worker is properly trained before allowing them to work with asphalt. Asphalt, regardless of where it is being used, it a dangerous material that should not be handled by untrained workers. In addition to training new workers, there should be continual safety updates and training for existing construction employees.
Who is liable for a worker’s asphalt injury?
All workers in Tennessee who use asphalt should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. When a person is hurt on-the-job, they should never have to worry about their medical bills or lost income being covered. That is what workers’ compensation is designed for. This is a “no-fault” system. Even if a worker was completely or partially responsible for their injury, they should be covered.
However, there are times when a person’s employer (of the employer’s insurance carrier) delay or deny a workers’ comp claim. When this happens, the injured worker may need to secure assistance from an attorney to help them through the process.
In some cases, a worker’s injury or illness caused by asphalt exposure may not be recognized right away. While an explosion or fire may cause immediately visible injuries, exposure to fumes may lead to illnesses that do not present signs or symptoms until years after a person’s exposure. Because of this, it may be harder to place liability on an employer. However, that does not mean there are no options for workers in this situation. A skilled workers’ comp attorney will know what steps to take to prove employer liability.