Attorneys Investigate Railroad Worker Benzene Exposure Lawsuits
Compared to the general population, railroad workers may be exposed to certain substances more frequently due to their occupation. One occupational hazard may include benzene exposure. Benzene is a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent. Due to these risks, the government regulates benzene exposure. However, railroad workers may encounter benzene more often because they are frequently exposed to diesel fumes.
Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing clients in personal injury lawsuits over occupational hazards, environmental risks, and other risks. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a railroad worker benzene exposure lawsuit.
Several government agencies have declared benzene a known carcinogen, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Personal injury lawyers are investigating possible lawsuits alleging that benzene exposure caused cancer in railroad workers. Studies have shown that benzene is associated with increased rates of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Railroad workers may file a benzene exposure lawsuit under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Congress passed this law in 1908 to ensure that railroad workers have legal rights if they become injured or ill due to their occupation. A railroad worker can file an occupational hazard or work-related injury lawsuit to recover damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress in a jury trial. Filing a lawsuit under FELA is separate from workers’ compensation, which entitles an employee to benefits for on-the-job injuries. Workers’ compensation is offered through the employer.
Benzene Exposure and Health Problems, Cancer
Benzene is a highly flammable chemical that is toxic to humans when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It is produced naturally in the environment through sources such as volcanoes and forest fires, and through human activities as well. Benzene has been used to make other materials, such as plastics, resins, nylons and synthetic fibers. Benzene may also be present in certain lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.
Substances such as crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke also contain benzene.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, benzene can settle in low-lying areas because it is heavier than air. The agency says that benzene ranks in the top 20 chemicals in terms of production volume, making it one of the most commonly used chemicals in the country.
Symptoms of benzene exposure may include the following, according to the CDC:
• Rapid or irregular heartbeat
• Death (at very high levels)
Research on both humans and animals has shown that benzene can cause cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Benzene exposure is mostly linked to cancers of blood cells, and health effects usually result from long-term exposure.
People who have been exposed to benzene through their profession have higher rates of acute myeloid leukemia, studies have shown. Industries that may involve a higher risk of benzene exposure include the chemical, shoe making or oil refining industries.
Some evidence also suggests that benzene increases the risk of other blood cancers, including childhood leukemia (particularly AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CL), multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These findings are weaker than the evidence for AML, however.
According to the CDC website, “The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs.”
Benzene can also cause other health problems, such as anemia, excessive bleeding, impaired immune function and increased risk of infection.
There are several safety tips you can follow if you believe you have been exposed to benzene, according to the CDC. Move to an area with fresh air away from the chemical if you believe that benzene is in the air. If you believe you have been exposed, the CDC says you should remove the contaminated clothing immediately. Note that these clothes should be cut off, and not pulled over the head. Wash yourself as soon as possible with large amounts of soap and water, and avoid touching other contaminated surfaces such as clothes. The clothes that have been exposed to benzene should be placed in a sealed plastic bag with another plastic bag over it. After disposing your clothes, inform the local authorities or emergency personnel.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a lawsuit involving Railroad worker benzene exposure or other occupational hazards, contact one of our personal injury attorneys today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).