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Six workers exposed to fumes during floodwater cleanup at UCLA

Six workers were reportedly injured during cleanup efforts for a 20 million gallon water spill caused by the rupture of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water main at the University of California in Los Angeles. As of Thursday, two workers were still recovery in the hospital after inhaling exhaust fumes from a generator while they worked to remove water from a building on campus. Four other workers who were exposed to fumes managed to get by with on-site treatment.

The mishap is one that may end up costing the Department of Water and Power a pretty penny, since the damage is said to be extensive. At this point, officials said they are concerned about the water mixing with oil and gasoline from the roughly 900 vehicles on campus at the time of the incident and creating a problem of toxic waste. The university has apparently said that it expects the DWP to be held liable.

Toxic exposure on the job is not something to take lightly or brush aside. Serious work-related illnesses can result from exposure to toxic chemicals on the job, whether the exposure comes from an explosion, fumes, or a toxic spill. Examples of illnesses include breathing problems, lung disease, cognitive and emotional irregularities, and headaches.

One of the potential challenges with workers’ compensation claims involving toxic exposure is to prove causation. Unless a physician is trained in recognizing the symptoms of toxic exposure, the issue could be confused and an employee could be denied the benefits they need. When this happens, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure one’s rights are protected.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Six workers injured at UCLA while pumping floodwater,” Joseph Serna, July 31, 2014.

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