Cadmium Exposure and Safe Handling

by | Feb 24, 2024 | Firm News, Industrial Accident

Cadmium, a naturally occurring heavy metal found in the earth’s crust, is used in various industrial applications, including battery manufacturing, metal plating, and the production of pigments, stabilizers, and alloys. Despite its utility, cadmium poses significant health risks to anyone exposed to it in an unsafe way. Recognizing these hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established comprehensive guidelines to protect workers from the adverse health effects associated with cadmium exposure.

Cadmium exposure can occur through inhalation of dust or fumes containing cadmium or ingestion of contaminated food or water. In the workplace, the most significant risk comes from inhalation, where cadmium particles released during processing can be easily absorbed by the lungs and then distributed throughout the body. The metal is particularly toxic to the kidneys and can cause kidney disease, lung cancer, and bone demineralization among other health issues. Given the severe implications of cadmium exposure, OSHA has delineated strict exposure limits and safety protocols to mitigate risks. The permissible exposure limit (PEL) for cadmium is 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air (5 µg/m³) for an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Employers must conduct air monitoring to ensure compliance with this standard and implement controls if this limit is exceeded.

OSHA requires employers to assess the potential for cadmium exposure in the workplace and conduct initial monitoring to determine the levels of cadmium present. If monitoring reveals cadmium levels above the action level (2.5 µg/m³ averaged over an 8-hour period), employers must take steps to reduce employee exposure. This may involve engineering controls, such as improving ventilation and using enclosed systems for cadmium processing, and administrative controls, like limiting the time workers spend in high-exposure areas. When engineering and administrative controls cannot reduce exposure to acceptable levels, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their workers. PPE may include respirators, gloves, aprons, and protective eyewear, tailored to the specific conditions and types of exposure in the workplace. OSHA mandates that employers provide appropriate PPE at no cost to employees and ensure its proper use and maintenance.

Education and training are critical components of OSHA’s cadmium safety guidelines. Workers must be informed about the dangers of cadmium exposure, the measures in place to protect them, and the correct use of protective equipment. Training should cover the recognition of cadmium hazards, the importance of proper hygiene practices, such as washing hands before eating or smoking, and the correct use and maintenance of PPE. Medical surveillance is another cornerstone of OSHA’s cadmium regulations. Workers exposed to cadmium at or above the action level must undergo regular medical examinations, including kidney function tests, to detect early signs of cadmium poisoning. These exams help ensure that affected workers receive timely treatment and are removed from exposure if necessary.

Despite the clear need for safety measures when handling cadmium, some employers still fail to ensure compliance with proper safety measures. When safety measures are insufficient or not properly enforced, it can cause workplace mishaps that can harm employees. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a workplace accident, it is important to contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options. A lawyer can help you investigate the accident to determine who was responsible and what safety measures were in place. They can also help you file a claim with OSHA and pursue compensation for your injuries or the loss of your loved one.

At Spagnoletti Law Firm, our experienced lawyers have handled workplace personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured. The experienced workplace personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an accident at a work site. There are strict and short time limits on bringing claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your rights.