Radiation occurs whenever energy is transmitted in waves through space. It can take many forms, like rays of sunshine, laser beams, microwave heat, and x-rays.
The most common type of radiation, non-ionizing or electromagnetic radiation, includes these common forms:
- Visible light
- Ultraviolet (UV)
- Infrared (IR)
- Microwave (MW)
- Radio frequency (RF)
- Extremely low frequency (ELF)
Exposure to radiation can be a daily occurrence. Certain occupations have a higher risk for radiation exposure. Radiation exposure most frequently occurs at research institutions, hospitals or other health care facilities, nuclear reactor sites, nuclear weapon production factories, and other manufacturing sites.
Professions at an Increased Risk
The following professionals are at an increased risk for workplace radiation exposure:
- X-ray technicians
- Airline crews (including flight attendants and pilots)
- Underground hard rock miners
- Nuclear weapon test participants
- Nuclear waste remediation workers
- Radium chemists
- Radium dial luminisers
- Nuclear industry workers
Individuals who work near certain types of induction furnaces or high-voltage power lines face extensive exposure to ELF radiation. The use of certain radio transmitters can cause excessive exposure to both microwave and radio frequency radiation.
Other workers may use potentially dangerous heat lamps; black lights; welding arcs; or infrared lasers, including helium-neon lasers, CO2 IR lasers, ruby visible lasers, nitrogen UV lasers, and neodymium YAG.
Individuals who work around diesel exhaust systems also face radiation exposure. In certain fields, bright lights are necessary to increase work production. Exposure to excessive amounts of visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum also can cause significant exposure injuries.
Damage Caused by Radiation Exposure
When a worker is exposed to excessive radiation, they can suffer physical injuries ranging from mild complaints to permanent disabilities. Some of the most common radiation exposure injuries are tissue damage, heat sensitivity, sinus infection, intense pain, skin burns, eye injuries, leukemia, breast cancer, skin cancers, bone cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, and potentially death.
Radiation experts advise that even exposure to 10 rem of radiation over a long period of time could increase the likelihood of getting cancer. Exposure to 100 rem over a short period of time can cause observable health effects and increase cancer risks; while exposure to 1,000 rem will likely result in death.
Employers can follow safety protocols to reduce the potential for radiation exposure. Properly controlled radiation is a necessary part of many occupations. Uncontrolled radiation is hazardous to workers.
Providing information and training about the risks of radiation and following the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines can create safer working conditions for at-risk workers. Many industries encourage their workers to undergo appropriate medical screening tests when past radiation exposure is suspected.
When an employer fails to follow established safety protocols or otherwise fails to provide safe working conditions for its employees, the employer may be subject to significant fines and other penalties.
Employees may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits to cover the costs of medical treatment, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, physical or occupational therapy, and lost wages resulting from injuries caused by exposure to radiation at the workplace.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Assist Individuals Exposed to Radiation at Work
If you or a loved one has been exposed to radiation at the workplace, compensation may be available. The experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. represent injured workers, including those suffering from the effects of radiation exposure. To arrange a free consultation today, call us at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 or submit an online inquiry form.
From our six office locations in South Carolina we serve clients throughout the state, including Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.