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How can you handle toxins in the workplace?

The air you breathe is one of the most important things in the world. It's invisible, but it's always there. Unfortunately, sometimes the air isn't as safe as it should be.

Toxic fumes and exposure can lead to problems with your health ranging from lung and respiratory conditions to cancer. Typically, employers have to report if there are hazards in the workplace. If there are, you should know about them and know the steps to avoid having them affect you.

Most of the time, the information about toxins in the workplace is included on the Material Safety Data Sheets. These sheets include information that helps emergency personnel and workers understand how to handle or work with toxins in the surrounding environment. Information on these sheets might include things such as what kind of personal protective equipment to use when handling toxins or what to do if there is a spill or leak.

What should you do if you see toxins in the workplace?

If you're aware of toxins and there is time to do so, your employer may be able to substitute the toxin for a less-dangerous product. If not, isolating the toxin to a single area of the building or property may be a good option.

For toxins you have to work with, ventilation is vital. Good ventilation pulls dust and fumes from the air, preventing them from affecting workers. Wearing personal protective equipment also helps you reduce your overall exposure to the toxins in your workplace.

In the event that you do suffer an injury from exposure, know that you have a right to workers' compensation. Although some conditions take time to show up, if you can connect them to your job, you can still pursue a claim.

Source: FindLaw, "Toxic Exposure in the Workplace," accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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