There is no doubt that the idea of science in action can be fascinating. When most people think of someone working in a laboratory, they think of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, or a place where interesting and highly technical experiments are carried out on a daily basis. All across Georgia, laboratory workers spend their days dedicated to their scientific pursuits and making scientific advances. While their work can be rewarding, sometimes it is dangerous as well.
Laboratories may be held privately, i.e., by a private company, by a government entity or institution, such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, or by a university or research center – and all of these types of laboratories employ lab workers. Yet, a laboratory can be a highly dangerous place to work. There is a lot of potential for a lab worker to become seriously injured while performing his or her job duties while in the lab. Whether it’s a chemical laboratory, a biological laboratory, a medical laboratory, a pharmaceutical company, or a biotech firm, every one of these location utilizes laboratory space when conducting research as a regular course of conducting business, and each lab space is choked full of potential hazards.
When a laboratory worker is injured while on the job, he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits help to provide the injured employee with financial support while he or she makes a recovery after having a workplace accident or suffering a work-related injury. Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical expenses, and a portion of the injured worker’s lost wages during his or her recovery.
Examples of Dangerous Laboratory Hazards
Laboratory spaces are unfortunately the setting for a number of potentially hazardous situations. Lab workers are diligently trained on how to safely work in their lab space, however, accidents still happen and lab workers can end up injured or their health can be placed in jeopardy. Some examples of dangerous laboratory hazards include:
Safety Protocol Is Not Followed. There may be situations where a lab worker is instructed by his or her employer not to follow appropriate safety protocol in the laboratory. Alternatively, the lab worker might have failed to properly adhered to the appropriate safety protocol while working in the lab. Safety protocols exist for a reason, and that reason is to prevent injury to workers in the lab space. However, workers’ compensation in Georgia is not based on fault. As a general rule, it does not matter whether the employer or the employee was at fault for causing the workplace accident or injury – the injured worker is still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Safety Equipment Was Not Worn or Not Worn Properly. Proper personal safety equipment is necessary to work in a laboratory setting. Workers might be required to wear lab coats, protective eyewear, respirators, and gloves as a regular part of their normal personal safety equipment. If a worker fails to wear the appropriate personal safety equipment, or the personal safety equipment is defective, the worker might be injured by exposure to the dangerous chemicals or materials that they are handling in the laboratory.
Broken Glassware Exposes Lab Workers To Danger. In virtually all laboratory spaces, workers are required to handle chemicals and other materials or samples for analysis that are contained in glass containers or vials. Glassware is critically important in the laboratory space because it is easily cleaned and sterilized for repeated use in the future. Glass is also highly stable, and does not react with a majority of chemicals. However, glassware can easily get broken, spilling the contents that were contained inside the glassware. A lab worker could be exposed to contaminated blood, dangerous chemicals, or other toxic substances when glassware accidentally breaks in the lab.
Risk of Explosion or Fire. It might be surprising, but laboratory work environments are often at high risk of experiencing an accidental explosion or fire. Chemicals may be stored in the laboratory under high pressure in canisters, and if something is wrong with the canister it could explode. Also, chemical interactions could produce an explosion or fire, so if two incompatible chemicals are accidentally mixed together, and explosion could result. Labs are also often stocked with a number of electronic devices and lab equipment, and an electrical malfunction in one of these devices or pieces of equipment could cause a fire.
Exposure to Biological Hazards. Lab workers who work in a biological laboratory space run the risk of being exposed to biological hazards, such as infected blood, dangerous pathogens, and hazardous microbes. Containment is critical when dealing with biological hazards, but sometimes things go wrong. Samples could be mishandled, a container holding a sample could be damaged or broken, or a workspace could be improperly cleaned or not sterilized after being used during the handling a dangerous biological samples.
Exposure to Sharps. In a laboratory setting, especially a medical laboratory setting, laboratory workers might be exposed to contaminated “sharps.” “Sharps” are any medical tool that has a sharp or pointed end that is used to cut or puncture skin. Sharps are inherently dangerous because – like their name suggests – they are sharp. But sharps are also extremely dangerous when they are contaminated. If a worker is accidentally cut or punctured by a contaminated sharp, the worker could be exposed to whatever biological hazards are on the contaminated sharp. The sharp could be contaminated with an infectious disease, blood, or other biological materials, which can be transmitted to the worker who accidentally cut or punctured him or herself.
Bader Law Firm, LLC: Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyers When You Need Them
Employees who work at a laboratory and are injured while on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If you have been injured while working in a laboratory in Atlanta, you need to speak with an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you are able to after your work-related accident or injury. Please feel free to contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at Bader Law Firm, LLC to discuss your workplace accident or injury. We are ready and available to help you get the workers’ compensation benefits that you need.