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Avoiding Mercury Exposure in the Workplace

by | Nov 18, 2013 | Workers' Compensation

Most workplaces have tubular or fluorescent compact bulbs for lighting. Metallic mercury poses health risks for inhalation and skin exposure, and is present in these light bulbs. For the most part, mercury is not an issue but if a light bulb bursts there could be danger. Small amounts of mercury will be released into the environment at the time that a light bulb breaks or shatters. It is important that workers know how to make the proper cleanup in order to reduce worker’s exposure to low level of mercury.

If not careful, workers can be exposed to mercury by breathing the vapors in the air or by skin contact with the substance. Typically, those who suffer mercury poisoning will experience tremors, mood changes, memory changes, or coordination changes. The element can also cause severe skin irritation or may cause the victim to have a violent allergic reaction. Exposure to mercury can also severely harm unborn children, so pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid exposure to the substance.

The best way to avoid mercury exposure in the workplace is to prevent accidental breakage by handling bulbs carefully. Also, make sure to package bulbs in sturdy containers to help prevent breakage, and label containers of fluorescent bulbs. If a bulb breaks, then workers should be told to stay away from the area. It is important to open all windows and doors in an attempt to air out the room. Workers should not use vacuum cleaners or brooms to sweep up the mess.

Instead the OSHA suggests that they use chemically resistant gloves as they carefully scoop up pieces of glass and powder with stiff paper or cardboard to avoid contact with broken glass. It is important to wipe down floors with a paper towel and place all pieces of glass and cleanup materials in a plastic bag with a glass jar and a lid. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after clean up. If you were exposed to a hazardous element at your workplace, then hire a New York workers’ compensation attorney at the firm today.