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California workers face unexpected lead poisoning

Workplace injuries can take many forms, some of which slowly creep up on their victims rather than injuring them in a single instant. California manufacturing employees across several industries face just such a situation, as state public health officials announced that over 6,000 individuals had tested positive for higher-than-acceptable levels of lead in their bloodstreams.

These workers are all employed in manufacturing jobs, many of which were operating within the established boundaries and practices that are in place to prevent lead poisoning. However, California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which establishes and enforces regulations, admits that the guidelines currently in place were built on medical data from nearly 35 years ago, and it may be time to revisit the guidelines to find ways to keep workers safe.

Lead poisoning can lead to very serious illnesses, ranging from heart disease, organ failure, reproductive complications and even cognitive impairment. Lead has properties that make it relatively easy to absorb, either through inhaling lead dust or by handling items that contain lead. Once in the bloodstream, lead can build up and affect the organs where it accumulates in deposits.

While the industries whose workers are most affected will need to re-examine their policies and guidelines to keep their workers safe on the job, there are still thousands who may already be significantly harmed by lead they encountered on the job.

If you have been harmed by something at work, you may be entitled to compensation to address your medical costs, lost wages and your pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate the nuances of your situation and give you options for pursuing justice, while keeping your rights protected.

Source: PBS, "California reports thousands of workers exposed to elevated lead levels," Barbara Feder Ostrov, Feb. 13, 2017

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