Can being exposed to secondhand smoke on the job make you sick?
Workers across several industries are exposed to hazardous toxins, chemicals, and pollutants on a daily basis, but can be exposed to cigarette smoke on the job have the same impact on workers' health as being exposed to silica or asbestos? Researchers say yes.
According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in five workers are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. The study compiled data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey Occupational Health Supplement, which scrutinized hazardous workplace exposures.
Initial research found that nearly 20 percent of nonsmoking workers across all industries reported encountering secondhand smoke on the job within the last 12 months of being surveyed. More than 10 percent of respondents reported exposure to secondhand smoke at least twice per week.
Who is impacted most by secondhand smoke?
Several states across the U.S. have comprehensive smoking bans. Pennsylvania, however, isn't one of them.
Secondhand smoke exposure tends to be more prevalent in outdoor workplaces. Data from 2014-2016 shows that secondhand smoke most often affects:
- 34.3 percent of construction workers
- 30.4 percent of mining workers
- 30.2 percent of transportation industry workers
How can secondhand smoke harm workers?
People who smoke cigarettes on the job put others at risk because the majority of smoke consumed is released back into the air. According to WebMd, there are more than 4,000 chemical compounds in tobacco smoke, 250 of which can be hazardous to health.
In addition, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of getting lung cancer by roughly 30 percent. What's worse, exposure to secondhand smoke can cause immediate health complications and can impact blood vessels, increasing the risk of a heart attack. It makes blood stickier and increases bad LDL cholesterol.
According to the CDC, exposure to secondhand smoke causes several health complications in adults, including:
- Nasal irritation
- Lung cancer
- Coronary heart disease
Why you should consult with a workers' attorney
If you're a nonsmoker who has developed an adverse health condition due to secondhand smoke (or any other harmful toxin) exposure on the job, it's important that you report this matter to your employer and get immediate medical attention.
Recovering from a serious illness may require frequent medical care and time away from work, during which you would be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Consulting with an experienced Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney is a critical step in the process. The legal team at Vellner Law, PC knows how the workers' compensation system works and how to reduce your chances of being denied benefits.
Don't hesitate. Contact us today to get started.