Laboratory workers in Minnesota may face serious dangers at work, especially if they handle biological, chemical, radioactive or other toxins on the job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are over 500,000 lab workers in the United States. OSHA has issued laboratory standards to provide federal guidelines for workplace safety in order to protect these workers from physical injuries, toxic exposure and occupational disease. The guidelines apply to a variety of laboratory settings, including academic labs, chemical storage rooms and loading docks for laboratories.
These OSHA regulations are mandatory for employers operating labs where hazardous chemicals are used. Employers have a responsibility to make a plan for the management of toxic substances and train employees to handle them properly. In some cases, they may need to provide personal protective equipment in order to minimize the risks of exposure. Workers also need to be trained on maximum exposure limits and other specific guidelines. In some cases, there are specific OSHA regulations for the use of chemicals like benzene or methylene chloride, while workers engaging with reproductive toxins or carcinogens may also require higher levels of protection.
Employers are also responsible for measuring the potential toxic exposure of their employees and ensuring these remain below permissible limits. For example, laboratories must perform ongoing monitoring of this type of exposure and take action in case of workplace accidents or other forms of excessive contact with hazardous substances. In case of a leak, spill or chemical release, employers have a responsibility to document the incident, remediate it and provide required medical care.
When lab workers are injured in a workplace accident, they may face costly medical bills or the threat of a serious occupational illness. A workers’ compensation lawyer with knowledge of workplace safety issues may help injured employees to pursue benefits and protect their rights.