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Texas hazmat workers face considerable risks

Workplace risk analysts say that chemical identification is one of the most significant contributing elements in the increased occurrence of hazardous material accidents in Texas and around the country. Because emergency response methods must be appropriately suited to the kind of substances involved in specific accidents, experts note that lack of documentation and handling history could potentially impede effective incident mitigation.

Some have proposed the adoption of technologically-aided storage standards and handling procedures. Smart containers and transport mechanisms that help track who handled given chemicals might be modified to incorporate hazmat information and guidelines for emergency response actions. These containers may also eventually be employed to help first responders find accidents in normally inaccessible locations.

According to existing regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, freight carriers only have to include United Nations hazmat material numbers on their shipping paperwork and lading documents. Observers point out that although that federal agency publishes a North American Emergency Response Guidebook detailing how to handle dangerous materials, this document is not always available to emergency teams when they need it and that it may not provide useful information in sufficient time to make an effective difference. Although container security devices that support hazmat control could remedy many of these deficiencies, industry insiders say the government is making no move to implement appropriate standards.

Many employees who are injured in a workplace accident are eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits, which can include reimbursement of medical expenses that have already been incurred as well as the provision of future necessary care and a percentage of wages lost while the victim is unable to work. An attorney who has experience in this area might be of assistance in preparing and filing the claim for benefits.

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