When most people think of biohazards in the workplace, what comes to mind usually are hospital and lab employees working around contaminated bodily fluids of infected patients. Certainly, those employees face a higher than average risk of getting injured or becoming ill due to a biohazard exposure in the workplace.
But the reality is that there are many professions where workers are routinely exposed to potentially hazardous biological material. Below are some professions where the workers face biohazard risks of varying degrees.
Plumbers and plumbers' helpers
It is the nature of the business that plumbers frequently find themselves standing in human refuse and other biohazardous effluvia. While wearing outer clothing that can keep many viruses and other biohazardous materials off the plumbers, they can still be exposed to some nasty bugs in their workplaces.
White collar workers
Those employed as white-collar office workers at first glance may appear not to have a very high risk of exposure to biohazardous materials. An argument can be made that their risk is usually low.
But one has only to turn to the media to see cases where office workers were sickened and/or contaminated in their workplaces when disturbed individuals sent biohazardous materials like the highly toxic Anthrax spores through the mail where the literal poison pen mail landed on the hapless workers' desks to be sorted and read. Suddenly, workers' lives were in jeopardy on a random weekday from opening an envelope.
Exposure to vermin, mold a problem
Those who work tearing down abandoned structures can be exposed to numerous toxic substances and by-products. The carcinogen asbestos is probably the most well-known environmental toxin that can put workers at high risk of developing the deadly disease mesothelioma.
But that is just one of many environmental hazards workers can encounter when tearing down a home or business. Exposure to black mold and vermin and their feces can also cause serious respiratory problems for the demolition workers.
Hazard management reduces risk
Regardless of where you work, your company should have protocols and protections in place for employees to prevent or significantly reduce their risk of contamination by a biological hazard in the workplace. Does your company have such policies in place? If not, you could face a much higher than average chance of suffering injuries from a biohazardous workplace exposure.
Mitigating existing risks
Since it is inevitable that some employees will face risk of exposure to biohazardous contaminants in the workplace, it is incumbent upon the companies that employ them to remove as many risks as they can.
When biohazard risks are inherent with the job category, e.g., plumbers and lab technicians, employers still must do all that they can to protect their workers from workplace exposures that can sicken or injure them.
Were you exposed to on-the-job contaminants?
If you suffered from a workplace exposure, you may be able to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. A Glendale workers' comp attorney can help you get the ball rolling on your claim.