Understanding Occupational Exposure Injuries

By Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC

We take for granted that we’ll be safe when we go to work each day, but what happens if you start to develop an injury or illness because of chemical or toxic exposure in the workplace? Sadly, this happens to employees all too often, and they’re the ones left to deal with the aftermath.  

If this has happened to you and you’d like to speak with a well-informed occupational exposure attorney about seeking workers’ compensation, reach out to our firm today to schedule a consultation. Our team at the Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC, has everything necessary to walk you through the claims process to help get your deserved compensation. The Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC, is located in Anchorage, Alaska, but we’re able to serve clients throughout the state, including Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, and Palmer. 

Common Occupational Exposure Injuries 

Workplace exposures can happen in several different occupational settings, and just because you don’t actively work with toxic chemicals doesn’t mean that you aren’t at risk. Also, many employees who suffer an exposure injury work in factories, construction sites, farms, mines, or other manufacturing plants, but exposure can also happen to office workers from chemicals that are seemingly innocuous, like cleaning supplies.   

Common injuries include rashes, burns, lung injuries, or even neurological damage. Even minor injuries like skin irritation, sore throat, watery eyes, coughing, or shortness of breath can all indicate a larger problem and should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately. Serious illnesses like black lung disease, mesothelioma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asbestosis are all risks that workers in certain industries face every day, and can be exacerbated by poor working conditions, inadequate safety measures, or prolonged exposure. 

Exposure Types  

Depending on the kind of work you do, the type of exposure you’ll encounter will vary. One way you could be exposed is through inhalation. Farm workers may be at risk for this if they work in or near silos or are around certain bacteria that can grow on crops. This is also a problem for textile workers, who may breathe in small fiber particles throughout the day.   

You may also be exposed to toxins by ingesting them through contaminated food, and workers should avoid eating or drinking anything where there may be toxic chemicals. Skin contact is another major source of workplace toxic exposure, and this can happen if you come into contact with solvents, cleaners, paint, insulation, glue, or carpeting. Skin exposure can be limited by wearing protective clothing, and gloves and following all protocols for proper cleanup after a job is finished. However, even the most meticulous worker may still be exposed to some chemicals through their skin.   

The Alaska Workers’ Compensation Claim Process  

If you’d like to pursue a workers’ comp claim with the state of Alaska, you may wish to hire an attorney to help with this process. A workers’ compensation attorney will be familiar with the correct procedures and can help you gather enough relevant evidence to increase your chances of a successful claim.   

Nearly all workers in the state will be eligible for workers’ comp, and you typically have two years from the date of the injury to file a claim. For injuries and illnesses that don’t have a clear start date, the clock generally starts running once you fully understand the extent of the illness (usually due to a medical diagnosis). You should always report your injury to your employer immediately, as well as seek medical attention. Importantly, keep all documentation during this time period because you’ll need it when filing your claim.   

If your claim is approved, you could receive temporary or permanent disability benefits. Temporary benefits can pay up to 80% of your weekly wages, but these are capped at $1,211 per week. Permanent disability benefits are paid at the same rate, but you may also be eligible for a lump sum payment based on your impairment rating, which is a percentage from 1% to $100%. 

Skilled & Compassionate Guidance  

If you’re in the Anchorage, Alaska, area and have recently sustained a workplace injury, call us at the Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC, to discuss your options for compensation. Our legal team has the resources, comprehensive skills, and practice to help you during these challenging times. We proudly serve clients throughout the state of Alaska, including Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, and Palmer.