Metallic mercury can pose a health and safety risk to many workers. While it remains a liquid at room temperature, it can turn into a toxic vapor or mingle with dust, causing problems once it is inhaled. The California Department of Public Health points out that it’s also harmful for the skin to come into contact with this metal.
Mercury exposure, when it’s chronic but at a low level every time, will damage the nervous system so that victims may experience tremors or weakness in the limbs. Victims may also develop anxiety or start to lose their memory. At high levels, mercury exposure is fatal.
The effect of mercury on the reproductive functions is well-known. It can cause infertility in women and raise the risk for stillbirths and miscarriages. As for those babies who are born, they may have birth defects as a result of the metal.
Mercury can be found in plumbing, heating and cooling equipment as well as certain gauges, including pressure gauges in water treatment facilities and blood pressure gauges. They are present in other medical instruments. Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury as well. Workers should know how to properly handle mercury-containing equipment and either repair or replace damaged equipment. To begin with, their use of mercury-containing equipment should be minimized.
Those who develop a condition because of mercury exposure may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Filing a workers’ comp claim can be confusing, however, and there is still the possibility of having benefits denied. With a lawyer, the process may become easier, and victims may be able to receive the benefits they deserve, especially if they suffered a temporary or permanent disability.