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Lead exposure in the workplace

Lead remains a valuable metal in many different New Jersey industries, including manufacturing and construction. However, it can cause neurological and reproductive harm if a person is exposed to too much of it. Even though the hazards have been well-documented, there are workers who are not properly protected against exposure.

Lead exposure can be dangerous as it can accumulate over time. As such, the risks also slowly and often quietly increase over time. Even further, lead exposure often does not have any symptoms, so employers and employees must be proactive. The Occupational Safety and Health Association established standards for the amount of lead employers are allowed to expose employees to. The absolute permissible exposure limit is 50 µg/m3 of lead over a period of 8 hours. However, when levels reach 30 µg/m3, there are certain actions that the employers must take to keep employees safe.

A report from the California Department of Public Health showed that, from 2012 to 2014, there were more than 6,000 workers in that state alone who had developed higher levels of lead in their blood. OSHA has estimated that more than 1,600,000 workers around the country have also been exposed to lead.

Employers are responsible for testing the workplace air for lead and for establishing safety precautions that allow them to adequately respond if a worker is exposed to lead. However, there is still a chance that an employee could be exposed and be harmed as a result. Although usually associated with workplace injury accidents, workers' compensation covers occupational diseases as well, and people who have gotten sick due to such exposure may want to have legal assistance when seeking benefits.

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