Lead hazards can be present in many materials on construction sites. Lead poisoning is a tragedy that does not have to happen, but it does. Demolition crews, painters, welders, and plumbers are likely at increased risk of lead exposure. If you or your loved one work at a construction site, you can be in danger of lead poisoning. Construction workers should not have to worry about unexpected illnesses because of an unsafe workplace. If you or your family suffered lead poisoning from a construction site, you deserve compensation.
Dangers of Lead in Construction
In the construction context, lead is found in pipes, solder materials, roofing material, tank linings, and electrical conduit, to name a few. But most commonly, lead exists in old paint. Lead exposure happens in construction when contractors disturb or burn materials containing lead.
For example, if a paint company has a job that involves removing or sanding old paint in a 1950s house, it is likely that the house paint is lead-based. If the workers do not take the proper precautions to prevent exposure, they could suffer lead poisoning. Working around lead can also lead to exposure through abrasive blasting, using torches and heat guns, and welding on lead-painted surfaces or materials.
Construction workers can attempt to reduce exposure to lead by taking certain precautions specific to working with lead. It could help to use personal protective equipment (such as gloves and respirators) especially approved for lead. Workers should also take care to remove anything worn during the construction before entering a clean area or going home. Areas where there is any sort of construction on something that might contain lead should be well-ventilated. Workers must also take special care around lead-contaminated dust, such as using dust-collecting equipment and wet dusting methods. None of these actions completely eliminate the chance of dust exposure, so workers must remain vigilant to signs of lead poisoning and take action immediately.
What Is Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning happens when people are exposed to lead particles. Generally, exposure happens when people inhale lead fumes or dust. Workers can also ingest lead if the particles are on their face or hands, or it can collect on clothes, hair, and tools. In this way, construction workers might bring harmful lead dust home with them and potentially expose their families to this toxin.
The severity of lead poisoning depends on the length of exposure and levels of exposure. Lead poisoning also affects some people more than others. Children, senior citizens, and people with respiratory problems have an increased risk of an adverse reaction to lead exposure.
The adverse effects of lead poisoning vary widely and manifest differently in everyone. Possible effects in both children and adults include:
- Brain damage,
- Mood disorders,
- Stomach issues,
- Organ failure, and
Lead poisoning is especially dangerous for children because it can negatively affect their neurological and physiological growth. Lead poisoning in children can cause many issues, including but not limited to:
- Behavioral problems,
- Delayed puberty,
- Kidney disease,
- Stunted growth,
- Hearing loss,
- Learning disabilities, and
- Heart disease
Even low levels of lead exposure can be toxic to anyone.
What Are the Symptoms of Lead Poisoning?
The signs of lead poisoning could be difficult to detect. Lead poisoning shares symptoms with a variety of other illnesses. But some of the more common lead poisoning symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain,
- Sluggishness, and
You can diagnose blood poisoning only with a blood test. If you have any of these other symptoms and you suspect that you’ve been exposed to lead, you should seek the opinion of a medical professional to pinpoint the issue.
Who Has Liability for Lead Poisoning at a Construction Site?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are required to keep employees safe from lead exposure. Obviously, avoiding lead hazards completely is impossible in some professions. But that does not excuse employers from taking preventative measures to address the issue. Employers must still uphold certain standards and procedures for reducing the possibility of lead poisoning. Employers that neglect this responsibility are liable to their employees. However, in Washington State and Oregon, you likely cannot sue your employers for liability for lead poisoning because workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory in these states. But you can and should initiate a workers’ compensation claim if you have suffered lead poisoning on the job. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a claim. A workers’ compensation claim should compensate you for most of your medical costs and disability pay, plus attorneys’ fees and assistance finding work if necessary.
Though you cannot sue your employer, you can likely pursue additional compensation from third parties that may share liability. Liability for lead poisoning that happens at a construction site may apply to multiple parties. Potential defendants could include:
- Construction site managers and owners for not providing adequate cleaning areas to remove lead contaminants or a clean break room;
- General contractors for neglecting to offer sufficient protective gear or ensure regular lead testing; or
- Product manufacturers if the available protective equipment was defective.
Third-party claims can help you recover whatever financial costs that you could not get through your workers’ compensation claim. Your financial costs are expenses related to your illness, such as medical costs or any wages lost. You can also ask for compensation for non-economic expenses such as pain and suffering.
Contact D’Amore Law Group for Help with Your Construction Worksite Injury Claims
D’Amore Law Group is known for its focus on helping people who were injured by negligent employers or other companies and individuals. When people are injured because of someone else’s negligence, they deserve compensation for their injuries and damages. Our construction site accident legal team has won millions of dollars for our clients who suffered workplace injuries. We are experienced trial lawyers and always ready to litigate aggressively in court if the other side will not negotiate fairly. Contact us to schedule a consultation for your case.