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Warning to Welders: Watch Out for Toxic Fumes

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  • Warning to Welders: Watch Out for Toxic Fumes

    Welders have been around just as long as the railroads themselves. It’s a tough job, but a worthwhile endeavor since these tireless workers helped build the foundation of the American railroad industry. Unfortunately, welders have also been exposed to some pretty horrendous chemicals.

    Welders have contracted permanent lung diseases, cancers or permanent neurological and memory disorders due to long term inhalation of the harmful particulates in welding fumes. Manganese is a common toxic fume welder’s encounter. Studies show that “long-term occupational exposure to manganese results in irreversible damage to areas of the brain that control body movements,” according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The ramifications include developing movement difficulties similar to Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
    The NIEHS did a study on the health consequences of occupational exposure to manganese. The results showed that working around, and breathing in, high levels of manganese in occupational settings made workers develop problems with balance, movement, and fine motor coordination characteristic of PD, and were even at a high risk for developing PD.
    This is just one of the chemicals welders are exposed to!

    There are other known carcinogens are constituents of the fumes. Types of metals commonly found in welding fumes include aluminum, beryllium, cadmium oxides, chromium, copper, fluorides, iron oxide, lead, molybdenum, nickel, vanadium and zinc oxides. Welding fumes also produce gases, which can contain carbon monoxide, fluorine, hydrogen fluoride, nitrogen oxide and ozone, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers.
    Surprisingly, OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) does not regulate welding fumes, though NOISH (the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) offers a “recommended exposure limit.” This seems lackluster at best, given the risks associated with these fumes.

    When we handle toxic welding fume cases, a careful investigation is necessary and it requires our law firm to confer with some of the top experts in the fields involved in chemical and carcinogenic research. This enables us to determine whether a particular cancer or disease was caused by the harmful toxic welding fume that the worker was exposed to.

    We also need to determine whether respirators were available to the welders while they were performing their job. This is an important safety tool that some railroads simply neglect allowing their workers to inhale these potentially-deadly fumes on a daily basis.

    If you’re a welder and been exposed to these fumes, I strongly urge you to see your doctor and get checked out. If you believe that a welding fume disease has adversely affected your health or career contact an experienced railroad injury attorney for a free, confidential consultation.

    About Us: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton FELA/Railroad Injury Attorneys have authored hundreds of railroad and FELA articles on our main website, and have over 100 years combined injury law experience. Firm attorneys included among “The Best Lawyers in America” 2010 Edition and the law firm has the highest rating (AV) granted by Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating service.