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NIOSH releases indoor environmental quality recommendations

Construction workers in New Jersey and around the country have very dangerous jobs, and some of the biggest threats they face are posed by toxic substances. Lead and asbestos were widely used on construction projects for decades because they offer excellent protection against corrosion and fire, and it is not uncommon for construction workers to encounter them when working on demolition, refurbishment or repair projects. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides construction companies with standards for exposure to lead, asbestos and other toxic substances, but complying with these rules is not always easy.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is tasked by the federal government with conducting research into job-related dangers. To meet this responsibility, the agency conducts what are known as health hazard evaluations at construction sites where the presence of toxic substances has been reported. NIOSH then releases recommendations to help employers meet OSHA standards.

The most recent NIOSH guidelines recommend that employers evaluate construction projects carefully before work begins and keep workers and supervisors informed about potential dangers. Employers should also check air quality regularly and ensure that workers are provided with respiratory equipment whenever dangerous substances are detected. When these recommendations are ignored, workers can develop health conditions that range from nausea and fatigue to deadly pulmonary diseases and cancers.

The workers' compensation insurance premiums that employers are required to pay can increase substantially when several claims are submitted following a workplace accident, and they may also rise when several workers develop job-related illnesses. This is why the claims filed by workers who became sick after being exposed to toxic substances on the job are often challenged. Attorneys with experience in this area may advocate on behalf of sick workers when their workers' compensation claims are disputed by their employers, and the attorneys may also file appeals when claims are denied.

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