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Have you been exposed to toxic chemicals at work? Symptoms such as a persistent cough, dizziness, or unexplained skin irritation could indicate a serious health issue.

If you suspect your workplace is the culprit, you might wonder if you can get workers’ compensation for chemical exposure in Minnesota.

Chemical exposure in the workplace is a serious concern, and Minnesota law protects workers who suffer from these injuries.

Today, the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka will provide an overview of chemical exposure workers’ compensation claims.

We will discuss the various types of chemical hazards that could result in such a claim, as well as your rights regarding workers’ compensation in Minnesota.

If you have any questions, please contact our St. Paul workers’ comp lawyers today. 

What Is Chemical Exposure in the Workplace?

Chemical exposure in the workplace occurs when employees come into contact with hazardous substances during their work activities.

These substances can be in the form of gasses, liquids, solids, or aerosols, and they can enter the body through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion.

Workers in various industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture are at a higher risk of encountering these harmful chemicals.

Minnesota Workers’ Comp and Chemical Exposure

Minnesota law protects workers who suffer from injuries or illnesses caused by chemical exposure. The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation.

To qualify for workers’ compensation for chemical exposure, you’ll need to demonstrate:

  • You were exposed to a chemical at work;
  • The chemical exposure caused your injury or illness; and
  • You reported the exposure to your employer promptly.

Minnesota has a presumption clause for certain occupational diseases, including some caused by chemicals.

This means that if you have a qualifying illness and work in an industry with probable exposure, you might qualify for benefits without needing to prove a direct connection between your job and your condition.

Key Points of Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Law

Let’s look at some key elements of the law.

  • Coverage. Nearly all employees in Minnesota are covered by workers’ compensation, including those who work with hazardous chemicals.
  • No-fault system. Workers’ compensation follows a no-fault approach, which means employees can receive benefits without demonstrating employer negligence.
  • Types of benefits. The Minnesota workers’ compensation system provides financial benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs for work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Statute of limitations. Employees must report their injury or illness to their employer within 14 days of becoming aware of it, and failure to do so may impact the ability to claim benefits. Also, you must file your claim within three years of the injury.

Consulting a St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyer experienced in chemical exposure cases is essential for understanding your legal rights, navigating the complexities of the claims process, and securing fair compensation.

Types of Chemical Hazards in the Workplace

Unfortunately, many workplaces, such as industrial manufacturers and healthcare facilities, use a variety of dangerous chemicals. Let’s discuss some of the different types of chemical hazards you could be exposed to.


These chemicals are notorious for increasing your risk of developing cancer, often after prolonged exposure. Examples include asbestos, benzene, and formaldehyde.

Respiratory Irritants

These chemicals can inflame your lungs, causing coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Common culprits include chlorine, ammonia, and dust-containing silica.


These insidious chemicals target your nervous system, leading to headaches, dizziness, tremors, and cognitive decline. Examples include lead, mercury, and some organic solvents.

Skin Irritants and Corrosives 

Solvents, acids, and alkalis are some chemicals that can cause various skin reactions, from rashes and burns to severe tissue damage.

Understanding these threats will help you protect your health while on the job.

Injuries Resulting from Chemical Exposure

Exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace may lead to a variety of health issues, ranging from minor irritations to severe, life-threatening conditions.

The types of injuries that can result from using dangerous chemicals include:

  • Respiratory problems—inhaling toxic fumes or dust can severely impact the respiratory system, leading to asthma, chronic bronchitis, or lung cancer;
  • Skin conditions—direct contact with hazardous chemicals can cause various skin issues, such as dermatitis, chemical burns, and severe skin irritations;
  • Neurological damage—prolonged exposure to certain chemicals can harm the nervous system, resulting in headaches, dizziness, tremors, and cognitive impairment;
  • Organ damage—some chemicals can significantly damage internal organs, including the liver, kidneys, and heart, potentially leading to long-term health issues; and
  • Reproductive harm—exposure to certain toxic substances may lead to reproductive problems such as infertility, congenital disabilities, and other congenital disabilities.

If you suspect you have been exposed to harmful chemicals at work, seek immediate medical attention. Promptly report your injuries to your employer to document your case and protect your right to compensation.

Filing a Chemical Exposure Workers’ Compensation Claim

Securing workers’ compensation benefits can be a complex process. After exposure to toxic chemicals, following these steps can assist you with the workers’ compensation claims process:

  • Report the exposure—inform your employer about the exposure immediately to document the incident;
  • Seek medical attention—get a thorough medical examination to confirm health issues that arose from exposure;
  • File a claim—submit a workers’ compensation claim through your employer, including accurate and comprehensive documentation; and
  • Consult a lawyer—a St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyer can provide expert guidance and help you understand your rights and benefits.

Follow these steps, and with a lawyer’s help, you can make the claims process as efficient as possible.

How Do I Prove I Was Exposed to Chemicals at Work?

Thorough documentation is crucial. Gather any safety data sheets (SDS) for the chemicals you worked with, witness statements from colleagues who can attest to your exposure, and medical records indicating your condition.

Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

No, Minnesota law protects your right to file a claim without fear of retaliation from your employer.

We’ll Help File Your Chemical Exposure Claim

If you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals at work and are suffering health consequences, don’t hesitate to seek help.

At the Criminal Defense and Worker’s Compensation Law Office of Arechigo & Stokka, our experienced St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyers understand the complexities of chemical exposure cases and are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured workers.

Contact us today for a free consultation to review your situation and discuss your options.

Author Photo Joshua R. Stokka

Josh has been representing injured workers for over 10 years. Josh was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, and attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology. Mr. Stokka alson received his law degree from the Hamline University School of Law. During law school, Josh clerked at a Minnesota law firm specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation. Prior to practicing in the area of workers’ compensation, Josh clerked for a judge in the 7th Judicial District in Minnesota. This valuable experience gave him insight into how judges think, do their jobs behind the scene, and how to frame a case in order to obtain a favorable result.  Now, he focuses 100% of his practice on defending injured workers in Minnesota.

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