No matter where you work or what industry you work in, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their workers. That is what OSHA is for as well, to make sure they do or face legal repercussions. If an employer fails to do so, they not only open themselves up to legal recourse, but hefty fines for safety breaches as well. However, while it is pretty much expected to make sure that a piece of machinery won’t hack your arm off without fair warning first, there are many small things that can slip through the cracks. However, sometimes small things can cause huge problems, as is the case with latex.
Latex is a material that is commonly used in a number of products. However, in the workplace, you will most commonly find latex in the form of protective gloves. These gloves not only protect that hands of the workers but protect the product from the worker’s hands. However, while latex is meant to protect, latex allergy is a widespread condition, but often not one that is acknowledged by employers until it is too late.
Symptoms of Latex Allergies
If you have ever had an allergic reaction to something, it was probably pretty mild. This is why many employers who get complaints of latex allergies tell the workers to basically just “suck it up” or may suggest that they get their own alternative gloves. However, for those who believe that an allergy is just a skin rash, a latex allergy can be a skin rash, but it can progress to so much more.
Symptoms of a latex allergy include:
- Skin rash
- Trouble breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Anaphylactic shock
Having this symptoms progress during one time of exposure is scary enough, but if this is something that a worker is forced to go through every single day, it can be incredibly dangerous. People die from severe latex reactions. Even if a worker has a mild allergy to them, exposing themselves every day can make a mild allergy go to a very extreme situation very quickly.
Holding Employers Accountable
A good employer will help you get medical treatment for your latex reaction, and then they will make sure there is a safe non-latex alternative available from then on. A bad employer will tell you to bring your own non-latex products in order to keep their costs law and talk you out of any legal action.
However, no matter if they are a good or bad employer, your latex reaction and the medical bills you accrued for it, should be covered by worker’s compensation. If you had a severe reaction from the latex gloves at work, there were likely a number of witnesses, and thankfully allergies are often not able to be blamed on anything other than the substance. This means that you should be able to file a worker’s compensation claim smoothly. If you were unfortunate enough to have latex gloves forced on you multiple times, this could open your employer up for an additional lawsuit if they purposefully forced you to wear safety equipment that they knew was not safe for you. However, because the worker’s compensation system protects the employer, this can be a tricky business and maybe a more difficult process than filing for worker’s compensation alone.
If you have suffered a latex reaction at work severe enough to seek medical treatment, you deserve worker’s compensation to cover your medical expenses. If you are filing as well as wanting to talk over your options for an additional lawsuit, contact us today so we can talk about your options and assure that you get the settlement that you deserve.