Construction sites are inherently dangerous places filled with hazardous tools, equipment, and materials. When proper safety gear and protocols aren't used, workers and site visitors can be subject to a wide variety of risks to their health and wellbeing. Incidents include catastrophic falls and electrocutions to more subtle maladies such as inhalation injuries and illnesses.
Though inhalation injuries rarely bring work on a site to a grinding halt in the same way that some other types of construction accidents can, they might lead to severe organ damage and have devastating long-term health consequences.
Construction workers and site visitors who sustain inhalation injuries may be entitled to compensation for damages.
Construction Site Inhalation Hazards
Almost any type of construction site can have numerous inhalation injury risks present, and most of these risks can be grouped into one of two categories: particulates and fumes from toxic chemicals.
Examples of particulates that can cause inhalation injuries include:
- Concrete dust
- Stone and masonry dust
- Demolition dust
Contractors and other construction crew members often work with various chemical agents that can potentially damage the respiratory system if used incorrectly or without suitable safety gear, such as:
- Paints and paint thinners
- Cleaning solutions
- Waterproofing products
- Gasoline, propane, and other fuels
- Urethanes and epoxy coatings
- Industrial solvents
Common Construction Site Inhalation Injuries
Construction workers and site visitors who suffer inhalation injuries can experience a range of uncomfortable to debilitating symptoms, such as shortness of breath, a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. These and other such symptoms may be linked to the following serious respiratory illnesses, including but not limited to:
- Silicosis: Caused by the inhalation of the mineral silica, silicosis is an incurable lung disease that can result in scarring of the lungs, which leads to major breathing issues. This illness can also raise a person's risk of developing additional respiratory illnesses, such as chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, or tuberculosis.
- Mesothelioma: Caused by exposure to and inhalation of asbestos particles, mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive, and particularly deadly form of incurable cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and other organs.
Depending on their severity, inhalation injuries may require long-term or lifelong medical treatment. In extreme cases, inhalation injuries may even prove fatal.
Potentially Liable Parties
After sustaining inhalation injuries on the job, workers' compensation benefits may not cover all of an injured worker's losses. To ensure they're receiving the maximum compensation possible, injured and ill construction workers may need to pursue additional claims against other potentially liable parties, such as contractors, subcontractors, and site owners.
Examples of third-party negligence in inhalation injury construction accidents can include:
- Failing to warn workers or site visitors of inhalation risks present on the property
- Failing to furnish workers with adequate protective gear and safety equipment
- Failing to prevent the release of dangerous particulates or toxic chemical fumes
- Failing to have an appropriate escape available in the event of an inhalation accident or other emergency
- Failing to give employees adequate job safety training; construction workers should know how to safely handle toxic substances and avoid exposure risks
Consult an Experienced Construction Accident Attorney
A serious inhalation injury can turn a construction worker or site visitor's life upside down. If you suffered an inhalation injury on a construction site, you may be in serious pain and unable to work—all while amassing significant, unexpected medical debt. However, if the inhalation injuries were caused by someone else's negligence, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to seek compensation for damages.
Do you have questions about a potential construction accident case involving inhalation injuries? McGartland Law Firm offers no-cost, no-obligation initial consultations for prospective clients. Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule an appointment for your free case review.