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Will workers' compensation cover lead poisoning?

Each year, a significant number of California workers have been found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Although workers' compensation covers their medical expenses, the workers carry lead dust home and put the health of their families at risk. If a recently proposed bill is passed, The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will have the right to enforce safety regulations in workplaces and issue citations and fines for violations.

The health effects of exposure to this highly toxic metal can be severe and permanent, and those who work in areas where lead is processed is at risk -- along with their families. The toxic effects can cause cognitive difficulties, high blood pressure and irreversible damage to the kidneys and nervous system. Pregnant women who have been exposed to lead risk miscarriages or to give premature birth. High levels of lead in the blood can even cause death.

If passed, Assembly Bill 35 will put an end to authorities disregarding lead exposure. Employers will be responsible for having the blood of exposed workers tested. The results must then be reported to the California Department of Public Health. In turn, the CDPH will have to report any over-the-limit results to Cal/OSHA who will then carry out inspections and issue citations to business owners who violate the lead safety standards.

Workers with adverse health conditions that were caused by lead poisoning can file workers' compensation benefits claims to cover their medical expenses and lost wages. An experienced California workers' compensation attorney can also determine whether there are grounds for third-party personal injury claims if the affected workers carried lead dust home. Children and pregnant spouses are exceptionally vulnerable when it comes to lead exposure.

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