Rios Law Firm PLLC

Workplace injuries: What threats do ototoxicants pose?

Some of the hazards employees in various industries in Arizona face are hidden. If workers are not aware of all the workplace injuries that threaten their safety, they could suffer long-term, life-changing health consequences. One such danger involves hearing loss that could be caused by exposure to certain chemicals. The chemicals can also cause balance problems, and these risks exist even in conditions that do not involve exposure to excessive noise.

The chemicals are called ototoxicants, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that research has identified certain solvents, pharmaceuticals and pesticides that contain them. Industries in which workers are at significant risk of exposure to ototoxicants include mining, agriculture, ship and boat builders, metal workers, painters and textile workers. These chemicals reach the inner ear via the bloodstream, and there it causes damage to the ear and the neural pathways to which it is connected.

OSHA warns that ototoxicants can cause a particularly dangerous type of hearing loss, called speech discrimination dysfunction. Victims are unable to distinguish between ambient noise and different voices and warning signs. Workers who are exposed to excessive noise and ototoxicants at the same time are at an even higher risk of hearing loss.

Although the Arizona workers compensation insurance system covers most workplace injuries, proving hearing loss to be work-related might be challenging. Hearing loss typically develops over time, making it virtually impossible to pinpoint a date on which the injury occurred. For this reason, it might be a good idea to turn to the experience of an attorney who has experience in fighting for the rights of injured workers.

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Phoenix, AZ 85012

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