Cadmium is an element that occurs in the earth's crust and has been
used in paints for years. Cadmium is now used as an electrode component
in alkaline batteries and is often used as a pigment for paints or coating.
Sometimes, it is used in platings or as a stabilizer in some plastics.
The OSHA says that workers in many industrial jobs are at risk to cadmium
exposure. This element can be very dangerous, leading to serious medical
conditions like cancer or kidney dysfunction. In some cases, cadmium can
cause lung cancer, prostate cancer, or local skin and eye irritation.
It can also affect a person's long-term health when it is inhaled
or ingested. Most cadmium enters the victim's system through inhalation.
Workers at Risk to Cadmium Exposure
Many different industries use cadmium, and workers can inhale the element
when on the job. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
estimates that more than 500,000 workers in the United States face exposure
to cadmium every single year.
Individuals who are at risk to cadmium exposure are those involved in:
- Metal Machining
- Plastics Manufacturing
- Smelting Metals
- Refining Metals
- Industrial Plant Operations
- Battery Manufacturing
- Coating Manufacturing
Preventing Cadmium Exposure
The OSHA and other worker's safety agencies are working hard to reduce
the amount of cadmium exposure in the workplace. The OSHA has created
a cadmium standard that has three elements. The OSHA has a limit on the
amount of cadmium that can be in the air and requires airborne exposure
on workplaces where the element is present. OSHA also demands that there
be respirators available for any workers who request one. Employees who
are at or above the action level for cadmium more than 30 days per year
must also be put on a medical surveillance program. The action level is
2.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air which is calculated at an 8-hour
time-weighted average (TWA) exposure.
As well, OSHA has set a permissible exposure limit (PEL), which is the
limit that defines how much cadmium a worker can be exposed to in the
workplace. This limit is a time-weighted concentration that must not exceed
an 8-hour work shift or a 40-hour work week. The PEL is set at 5 micrograms
of cadmium per cubic meter of air. This is the limit for all cadmium compounds,
dust, and fumes. A third limit is the Separate Engineering Control Air
Limit or SECAL. The SECAL is a separate exposure limit that is given to
places where it is impossible to achieve the PEL of 5 micrograms per cubic
meter. If a workplace fails to stay within these limits, the supervisor
or manager can be cited as a result.
OSHA also instructs all supervisors at locations where cadmium is present
to provide respirators to all employees who request one. All workers should
also be given property protective clothing and must remove all work clothing
/ equipment at the end of a shift in a changing area designated for this
purpose. Changing rooms at factories where cadmium is present must have
separate storage areas for other clothes that are not near the contaminated clothing.
Employers must also clean and maintain all protective clothing and equipment
by washing the clothes at least once a week and repairing or replacing
outfits as necessary when there are tears or rips. Employees who are exposed
to cadmium above the PEL are also required to shower at the end of their
work shift and may not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or tobacco, or put
on makeup before they wash their hands and face to rid them of cadmium
dust or residue.
Talk to a Skilled Industrial Injury Lawyer
If you are injured by cadmium exposure or develop a medical condition from
cadmium, and your company did not follow proper OSHA procedure to prevent
your illness, then you should contact an
industrial injury attorney at Arnold & Itkin today. Cadmium can bring on long-term illnesses
that can cost you hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in
medical bills and medical attention. With a lawyer from Arnold & Itkin
there to help you, you may be able to get all of these expenses covered
and hold your company accountable for failing to follow federal guidelines.