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Toxic exposure in the health care field

Oklahoma workers in the medical field have the right to have their health protected as they care for the health of others. Although the dangers to medical workers from blood borne pathogens are common knowledge, it may be less known that a health care workplace contains any number of dangerous and toxic substances. If they are used or stored improperly, then there may be a real risk to the health of all employees exposed to them.

Keeping a hospital clean and sterile is a monumental task, and the chemicals that are used to accomplish it can be extremely toxic. Alcohol-based cleaners are among the least of the strong substances used to kill pathogens on surfaces. The kinds of chemicals that are used to process X-ray film, sterilize medical equipment and perform other sensitive tasks have the potential to be extremely injurious to the workers that apply them.

There are also pharmaceuticals that have the potential to do harm to the worker. Chemotherapy drugs and anesthetics are both extremely powerful medications that are generally only used when a patient has a critical need for them. Accidents or mistakes in the supply chain have the potential to expose workers to far more than the safe dose.

Workplace safety is the responsibility of every employer and site operator. If they fail in their duty to keep their work site free of contagions and toxic contamination, then any worker who falls ill due their negligence has the right to seek workers' compensation payments. A lawyer may be of assistance in difficult cases where the employer denies responsibility or where the employer can be shown to have behaved in clear violation of the law.

Source: OH&S Online, "Health Care Hazmats: There's More On Site Than Just Bloodborne Pathogens", Karen Hamel, Dec. 1, 2015

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