Many work injuries in Missouri and other states are caused by toxic chemical spills and explosions. Some companies where injuries occur are manufacturers of the dangerous chemicals themselves. In other instances, the injuries occur at a company that uses the chemicals for specialized tasks around the worksite. Whenever a worker is injured by contact with dangerous chemicals that worker has a right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

A recent chemical spill that injured a male worker occurred on June 20. The worker was participating in a chemical transfer from a railroad tank car to a truck at a county port authority. A fire department spokesperson said that the estimated spill consisted of about 300 to 400 gallons of sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, which is the main ingredient in most drain cleaners. A company spokesperson said that the estimate seemed high.

The spill reportedly occurred in a contained area at the Midwest Terminals of Toledo International. Although the employee was wearing protective gear, he was nonetheless splashed with some of the liquid. He suffered chemical burns on his hands and face. Responders took him to a hospital with serious injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening.

Workers’ compensation benefits paid to an injured worker in Missouri include a percentage of normal wage earnings, payable weekly or bi-weekly during the period that the worker is certified to be medically unable to work. Benefits also include payment of medical expenses, physical therapy and other treatment deemed medically necessary by the treating physician. Employers and insurers may attempt to push a worker back to work prior to his or her release from medical treatment. In some instances, that includes trying to get the worker to take on a “light duty” job. When that occurs, it is imperative to obtain a consultation with an experienced workers’ comp attorney to assure protection of his or her rights.