Toxic Exposure and Construction Accidents in New York, NY

toxic fumes warning sign

Construction work is dangerous by nature, and accidents in the workplace are common. Work sites are filled with equipment, tools and machinery that unquestionably put workers at risk for traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, scaffold accidents, crane accidents, fractureselectrocution and burns. But an unseen hazard – toxic exposure – also poses a threat to Brooklyn, New York, construction workers.

Virtually all construction sites are home to chemicals, compounds or other products that can be toxic to workers. The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration created standards and regulations, all of which have been adopted by New York’s State Plan for Public Employee Safety and Health, regarding toxins that can cause bodily harm at certain levels of exposure. The party in charge of a construction site or a particular job – whether it is the landowner, employer, general contractors or various subcontractors – is responsible for making sure that exposure to toxic materials does not exceed acceptable limits and that appropriate plans are in place when accidents happen.

Are You a Victim of Toxic Exposure on a Construction Site?

If you or a loved one was exposed to dangerous toxins on a New York construction site and someone other than the employer was to blame for the workplace injuries, you could be entitled to receive damages if the third party falls outside of the workers’ compensation system.

The Brooklyn, NY, workplace accident lawyers at David Resnick & Associates, PC, are skilled at evaluating construction accident claims and can help you determine whether the negligence of a third party caused or contributed to your injuries. We also can help if you were a non-employee who was injured while visiting a construction site. Call our firm today at 877-815-6053 or use our online contact form for a free evaluation of your case.

We serve construction accident victims in the Bronx and all of New York City, including Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Long Island.

How Toxic Exposure Injuries May Occur in Construction Zones

Federal statistics report that in 2009, 17,320 U.S. employees were exposed to chemicals or chemical products that made them sick enough to miss an average of two days of work.  In the construction industry alone, 980 workers suffered from non-fatal job injuries or workplace illnesses as a result of chemical exposure that year.

Toxins may cause temporary or permanent bodily damage to workers, either by direct contact or through dust and fumes in the air. Direct contact might cause burns, eye irritation or allergic reactions. Inhaling harmful substances could cause respiratory distress or neurological damage; such inhalation has even been linked to fatal conditions, including cancer and lung disease.

Here are some of the main culprits of toxic exposure at construction sites:

  • Asbestos: Until it was confirmed as a serious health hazard, asbestos was a common industrial product used in insulation, cement, roof shingles, tile and textiles. Inhaled asbestos fibers can cause a debilitating and chronic lung condition called asbestosis and a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer called mesothelioma.  The substance has also been known to cause asbestos warts, which appear when asbestos fibers lodge in the skin. Although many nations have banned it, asbestos is still found in residential and commercial settings today, as well as during renovations of older structures.
  • Lead: Exposure to lead, perhaps the most notorious of the toxic metals, is common in construction jobs that involve manual demolition, dry manual scraping, dry manual sanding, heat gun use, power tool cleaning with dust collection systems, spray painting, abrasive blasting, welding, torch-cutting and torch burning. The body absorbs lead and stores it in the bones, where it can be released into the blood. Circulating blood can thus re-expose various organ systems to lead long after the initial exposure. Lead is a neurotoxin and is associated with decreased motor speed and strength, and wrist and foot drop. It also is associated with gastrointestinal and reproductive problems, kidney damage and anemia. OSHA requires employers to provide respiratory protection, protective work clothing and equipment, change areas, hand-washing facilities, training and initial medical surveillance for construction jobs that involve lead exposure.
  • Solvents and fuels:  A number of solvents can be harmful to construction workers. One particular solvent, called Bis (2-chlorethyl) is estimated to cause between 730 and 940 cancers per 1,000 workers who are exposed to it over their lifetime, according to the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America. Bis (2-chlorethyl) can be found in paint and varnish.
  • Asphalt: According to OSHA, more than 500,000 workers per year are exposed to fumes from asphalt, which is used in road paving, roofing, siding and concrete work. Exposure to asphalt fumes may cause headache, skin rash, sensitization, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation, cough and skin cancer.
  • Crystalline Silica: Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. In construction settings, it can be inhaled when workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects. Overexposure can cause silicosis, an irreversible and potentially deadly lung disease. According to OSHA, the worst exposures occur during abrasive blasting with sand to remove paint and rust from bridges, tanks, concrete structures and other surfaces. Toxic exposures are also possible in jobs involving jackhammering, rock/well drilling, concrete mixing, concrete drilling, brick and concrete block cutting and sawing, tuck pointing, and tunneling operations.
  • Hexavalent chromium (CrVI): Hexavalent chromium compounds are used in dyes, paints, inks and plastics and as anticorrosive agents to paints, primers and other surface coatings. It can also be found on metal parts as a decorative or protective coating. Hexavalent chromium can also be produced during work such as welding on stainless steel or melting chromium metal, according to OSHA. Long-term toxic exposure has been linked to lung disease and damage to the ears, nose and throat.
  • Formaldehyde: A known human carcinogen, formaldehyde is commonly used in the medical industry. On a construction site, formaldehyde can be found in particle board, plywood and foam insulations. Even short-term exposure can be fatal.
  • Other sources include mold, carbon monoxide, pesticides and metals like mercury and manganese.

Our NYC Construction Injury Lawyers Can Help 

If you are living with the short-term or long-term effects of toxic exposure sustained on a Brooklyn or New York City construction site, it is possible that a third party, such as a contractor or even a manufacturer, is to blame. For a free consultation about your on the job injuries, contact the construction accident attorneys at David Resnick and Associates, PC online or by calling 877-815-6053.