When Connecticut residents think about workplaces where chemicals may be present, large factories, manufacturing plants and other industrial sites may come to mind. However, chemicals in some form or fashion are present in practically every office, store, restaurant and other locations where a person may hold down a job. From cleaning supplies to ink toner, workers are often exposed to substances that could pose risks to their health.

Though most individuals are trained to safely use the chemicals and hazardous materials that they are required to use on the job, some are left to do their work without sufficient protection or education on how to safely handle the hazards. When a person is exposed to a dangerous substance in a manner that could allow the substance to touch or enter the person’s body, that individual may suffer from a workplace illness due to the contact with the substance.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, is tasked with keeping American workplaces safe and offers individuals guidance on how to deal with chemicals and hazards while on the job. Under OSHA’s rules a worker has the right to refuse work if the worker believes they will be in immediate risk of illness or injury if forced to use the chemical or if the worker’s employer refuses to remedy the toxic and dangerous conditions of the workplace. A worker must inform their employer of the dangers before refusing to work and there are other situations in which a worker may cease his tasks should dangerous conditions arise.

Exposure to chemicals and hazards at work can leave a person sick and unable to hold down a job. For those individuals who have contracted workplace illnesses, help is available. Attorneys who provide workers’ compensation and workers’ rights services can counsel injured and sick individuals on their rights to pursue compensation from their employers.