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Workers, Families Suffer When Manufacturers Cut Corners on Safety

When manufacturers cut corners on safety, workers – and their families – often suffer from medical complications from exposure to toxic chemicals.

In Seattle, the Department of Labor & Industries imposed a $2 million fine on century-old heavy equipment maker Young Corporation after inspectors found 175 safety violations, including airborne chemicals, extreme noise and missed crane inspections, the Seattle Times reported.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Across Young Corp.’s three locations, Seattle inspectors documented 31 willful-serious, seven willful-general, 94 serious, and more than 40 general violations. Willful violations occur when a business intentionally ignores a hazard or rule. Serious violations occur when a worker is exposed to a hazard that could cause injury or death.

According to the inspection, welders were not wearing protective helmets, machinery lacked protective guards, pits had no railings, respirators were covered in paint overspray, and workers were found eating, drinking and smoking in the presence of toxic chemicals. Noise levels were so extreme that they couldn’t be read on noise meters.

“The number and gravity of the hazards are staggering — one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen,” Craig Blackwood, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said in a press release. “They had safety meetings where they talked about and documented the hazards, but they never took any action.”

Dangers of Toxic Exposure in the Workplace

Industrial chemicals like vinyl chloride, hexavalent chromium and benzene are highly toxic and can rapidly affect individuals who are exposed, according to OSHA’s Toxic Industrial Chemicals Guide. Whether in gas, aerosol or liquid form, toxic industrial chemicals can enter the body through inhalation, skin or digestion.

Exposure to vinyl chloride — a colorless, sweet-smelling gas used to create polyvinyl chloride (PVC) — causes dizziness and can be fatal at high concentrations, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Workers exposed to the gas can suffer nerve damage and develop alterations in immunity. It has also been linked to a cancer known as angiosarcoma of the liver and birth defects.

The violations at Young Corp. are a reminder for Seattle-area industries regarding their legal obligation to protect workers and their families from exposure to harmful chemicals and dangerous workplace practices.

Boeing Corp., one of the Seattle area’s largest employers, is facing lawsuits filed by workers whose children were born with birth defects. According to the lawsuits, workers at the company’s manufacturing facilities were exposed to harmful chemicals — including heavy metals and solvents — without proper safety equipment. Exposure to hexavalent chromium and other chemicals caused serious birth defects, including heart defects, physical and intellectual disabilities, stillbirth, life-long chronic illness and serious genetic mutations, according to the lawsuits.

How We Help Victims of Toxic Exposure

Seek justice with the help of our experienced lawyers. Our birth defects law firm has battled corporate giants on behalf of individuals like you for 20 years, aggressively fighting to hold them responsible for dangerous chemicals and the birth defects and personal injuries they cause. If you have a child with birth defects caused by working at Boeing, we can help.

What are my chances?

That’s the first question everyone asks. The truth is it’s impossible to know. But we can tell you this. Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel has what it takes to fight against big corporate interests and win. That’s why we’ve taken more mesothelioma trials to verdict than any other firm. And that’s why we’ve recovered more than $1.3 billion for clients like you. Do you think you have a case? Contact us now to speak with an attorney.

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