Maritime injuries are not always easy to identify, especially if they do not involve apparent physical wounds. However, exposure to toxic chemicals while working aboard a vessel qualifies as a maritime injury under certain circumstances, and you are likely eligible to pursue compensation under federal maritime injury laws.
Employers are responsible for creating a safe work environment, and that includes an environment free from the hazards of toxic chemicals and fumes. These hazards can result in injuries, both internal and external, and some of these injuries may prove life-threatening.
Maritime toxic exposure
The work duties of maritime crewmen often involve working around and handling hazardous chemicals, including:
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Finishing sprays
- Vinyl chloride
- Hazardous waste
- Toxic metals
These chemicals and substances can cause injury when inhaled or when they come into contact with your skin, resulting in burns or lesions that may scar or permanently damage your skin. When inhaled, you may lose consciousness, begin to asphyxiate or develop serious long-term respiratory conditions.
In some cases, exposure to toxic chemicals results in life-threatening chronic illnesses such as cancer, brain damage, lung disease or disability.
What you can do when exposed
If you suspect exposure to toxic chemicals or have experienced certain exposure, it’s important to know your rights under maritime law. Maritime employers must adequately train employees regarding best practices when working around toxic chemicals. As well, employers are accountable for providing proper signage, environmental upkeep and adequate safety equipment.
In the event of injurious chemical exposure, including spills, chemical inhalation and topical injuries, you can file a claim to seek compensation from your maritime employer to cover the cost of medical bills and lost wages.