Many people in Denver likely believe that they, as employees, are sufficiently protected from workplace hazards by the regulations put in place by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is designed to keep offices, workplaces and construction sites safe; it regulates all kinds of aspects of work in an effort to keep employees healthy. While it does all of that, it is also much more focused on short-term injuries than long-term, disabling illnesses.
Even the director of OSHA has said that the system is broken. There are numerous rules and regulations about things like stairs and ladders, but there are very few about the chemicals that many employees are consistently exposed to. In many cases, that exposure will lead to serious illness or death.
Each year, more than 200,000 people are sickened by the near-constant exposure to toxic air in the workplace. Moreover, over 40,000 people will die earlier than they should because they have breathed in this dirty air. These figures show that the federal government has tremendous oversight over the workplace, but it is largely ignoring the dangers of toxic air, a long-term danger.
If someone in Denver becomes sick from exposure to dirty air, he or she can often file a workers’ compensation claim to cover his or her missing wages, as well as the medical expenses associated with the disabling condition. The benefits system can be tricky to navigate, however, and many injured or disabled employees try to work with a workers’ compensation attorney to file for the benefits.
Source: The New York Times, “As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester,” Ian Urbina, March 30, 2013
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