Employers who hire workers to handle radioactive materials must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of their staff. In addition to employer accountability, regulations from multiple government agencies are in place to prevent radiation and mining accidents from happening. When employers violate and ignore guidelines for handling radioactive materials, people can face injury and death from radiation sickness. Early last week, six miners at a Wyoming mine inhaled yellowcake uranium during a cleanup operation to remove a spill.
The accident happened when 1,500 pounds of yellowcake uranium spilled onto the floor of a production facility. Yellowcake is a dusty, powdered version of the dangerous element. Workers sent in to clean up the dangerous spill were wearing respirators, but the supervisor did not fill out the necessary paperwork to authorize a cleanup.
After cleaning the spill, a urine test revealed that the workers were exposed to levels multiple times the industry standard required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).While the workers were far above the standard for immediate exposure, they were still in a safe range for measuring annual exposure. Uranium is an element that can cause kidney damage with high enough levels of exposure.
How Serious Are Work Accidents Involving Radiation?
Depending on the industry and the materials in question, over-exposure to radiation can cause radiation sickness or cancers. The NRC has regulatory limits placed on exposure to nuclear materials so accidents involving injury and death can be prevented.
If a worker is exposed to radiation and sickened by it, that person may be able to file a civil claim against his or her employer for failing to ensure a safe working environment. Additionally, an employer could face enormous fines and can even be shut down for failing to safeguard radioactive materials.
Metier Law Firm will use years of experience handling personal injury cases to defend clients injured while working in the mining and oil and gas industry. Please visit our Facebook and Twitter pages to get more information.
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You can learn more about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and professions that involve radioactive materials by visiting OSHA’s website.