Were you the victim of a paper mill accident that left you with moderate to severe injuries? Did you lose a loved one at the paper mill after a workplace accident occurred?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury lawyers represent injured accident victims harmed at paper mills nationwide. Talk to a paper mill accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation for immediate legal advice.
Every year, over 200,000 workers at more than 560 paper mills throughout the United States produce approximately nine million tons of pulp. Unfortunately, paper mill workers are often exposed to toxic, hazardous chemicals, hexavalent chromium, chlorinated organic compounds, and pesticides.
Many paper mill workers have suffered mesothelioma or another occupational disease in recent years after being exposed to asbestos (fibrous silicate minerals) in their workplace.
Paper Mill Workers and Mesothelioma
Many paper mill companies throughout the United States exposed their workers to various asbestos (fibrous silicate mineral) products contained in equipment and buildings constructed before the 1990s. While the paper products do not contain fibrous silicate minerals, the equipment used in a paper mill does.
Many of these older buildings still contain fibrous silicate minerals in ceilings, walls, and other materials. Typically, the employee is exposed to fibrous silicate mineral insulation, gaskets, and dryer felts needed during the paper mill process.
Insulated Pipes and Vessels
Many employees involved in equipment maintenance are exposed to fibrous silicate mineral fibers and dust involved in boiler operations, pulp, and paper-making. In addition, asbestos is often exposed to high heat and materials used to insulate vessels and pipes.
Asbestos-Containing Talc & Dryer Felts
During various paper manufacturing stages, employees could be exposed to asbestos dust and fibers and talc used for bleaching and refining paper during the manufacturing process. In addition, recent reports indicate that talc is contaminated with asbestos.
High-speed paper machines require dryer felts to complete the papermaking process. For years, the dryer felts contained asbestos to minimize damage during the high-heat drying process.
Many materials used in older buildings contained asbestos, including industrial pipes, adhesives, and floor & ceiling tiles. Additionally, the building’s shingles, siding, and walls were insulated with caustic fibers due to their non-flammable properties.
Many papermill workers exposed to caustic fibers and dust have the highest significant risk of developing asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other lung-related medical conditions from fibrous silicate mineral exposure.
Paper Mill Toxicity
According to Science Direct, the papermaking process generates high toxicity due to materials with xenobiotic compounds. Typically, these compounds are foreign chemical substances that harm animal life and plants.
In the paper mill, the compounds are derived from industrial chemicals and pesticides used while making paper. As a result, paper mill workers are often exposed to highly toxic levels of harmful chemicals during daily work activities or through an explosion, including:
- Acetic Acid
- Chlorine and Chlorine Dioxide
- Chlorine dioxide
- Dyes & pigments
- Formic acid
- Gaseous sulfur compounds
- Gluconic acid
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Lime dust particles
- Sodium hydroxide mist
- Sodium sulfate dust particles
- Sulfuric acid
- Titanium dioxide
Any injured worker acquired from wood fibers and paper health problems should seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, workers can be exposed to other occupational hazards from tons of wood dust containing microbes, fungus, spores, and finely ground wood particles.
Some workers experience repetitive stress injuries from performing the same job for hours at a time.
Common Causes of Paper Mill Accidents
Unfortunately, industrial workers in paper mills are exposed to numerous hazards that could lead to serious workplace injuries and wrongful death. Many of these common but dangerous industrial paper mill accidents are caused by:
- Damaged or broken machinery
- Defective equipment or heavy machinery
- Falling objects
- Fire hazards and explosions
- Flying and debris & objects
- Inadequate training
- Heavy machinery and products
- Lack of equipment maintenance
- Negligent supervision
- Power failure
- Slipping, tripping, and falling
- Toxic material exposure
- Unsafe procedures
- Unsafe working conditions
An EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) study found a high concentration of acute toxicities involving resin acids used in pulping and debarking woods used in the papermaking industry.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Paying for Paper Mill Injuries
Working in a paper mill under hazardous conditions leads to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. Benefits through the Workers’ Compensation program can compensate for medical expenses, hospitalization, and lost work caused by a work-related injury accident involving:
- Amputations caused by a lack of machine guarding
- Severe burns from steam, cuts, and abrasions
- Crushing injuries caused by large rolls of paper
- Fractures and broken bones
- Health problems from dust inhalation
- Hearing loss and deafness
- Lifting injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Steam burns
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Holding the Responsible Party Accountable
Any catastrophic injury in a work setting can be life-altering. Typically, the healing process from serious paper mill accidents may take weeks, months, or years to recover fully, if possible.
A paper mill worker injured on the job is likely entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits from their employer’s insurance company.
Usually, the workers’ compensation policy provides coverage to compensate for the injured victim’s hospitalization costs, medical care, physical therapy, vocational rehab, lost wages, and temporary or permanent impairment.
Any family member who lost a loved one in a workplace accident is entitled to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit seeking the recovery listed above and funeral & burial expenses. In addition, the surviving family members can also seek compensation for loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of spousal/familial support.
However, the monetary recovery provided to the workers’ compensation program is usually insufficient to compensate for all of the outstanding monthly debt to survive without a weekly paycheck.
In these cases, the injured worker will likely hire a catastrophic injury attorney to file a personal injury case seeking additional compensation from third parties responsible for the accident.
A third-party personal injury claim can be filed against any person or entity that is not the employer and collect additional benefits over the worker’s compensation weekly payment.
Common examples of third parties listed as defendants in third-party claims include:
- Any individual, subcontractor, or vendor whose negligence led to the accident
- An equipment manufacturer or designer that made, distributed, or sold the defective machinery
- Any property owner, other than the employer, that allows unsafe conditions on the premises that led to the accident
The Worker’s Compensation program does not include personal injury claims to compensate for non-economic damages, including loss of companionship, pain, and suffering. Filing a third-party claim can ensure the injured victim receives additional compensation based on the case’s value.
However, third-party claims are often complex, notably when filed when the victim receives weekly workers’ compensation paychecks. A personal injury attorney can protect your rights and secure the most favorable outcome to ensure that you get the total compensation you’re entitled to receive.
Injured in a Workplace Accident? Protect Your Rights!
Nearly every workplace accident happens unexpectedly when the employee least expects to be harmed. So what do you do to ensure that you protect your rights if you are involved in an industrial accident?
The following steps can ensure your best outcome, including:
- Seek medical help immediately– Nearly any serious industrial accident leads to severe injuries, compromising the victim’s health conditions and well-being. Immediately after an accident, get medical help to ensure you are correctly diagnosed. Only a competent doctor with the best diagnostic tools can determine the extent of your injuries and the medical treatment you require.
- Report what happened– Notify your immediate supervisor or manager to report the accident. Then, fill out all of the company’s required forms which will be the first step to obtaining worker’s compensation benefits.
- Obtain witness statements– Ask if any person saw what happened, and identify any video cameras that captured what occurred. Obtaining witness statements early on ensures that the person remembers what happened before their memories fade over time.
- Collect pertinent information and documentation– Capturing photographic evidence of the accident scene, and taking pictures of your injuries, the hazardous area, and broken machinery, can ensure that you have complete documentation to prove what occurred at trial or to the claims adjuster.
- Talk with an attorney– While you might believe you can handle an injury claim without legal representation, filing a third-party claim while receiving workers’ compensation payments can be challenging. An attorney specializing in common industrial accidents can discuss all your legal options.
Many insurance companies have extensive tactics to minimize the amount they pay injured workers to maximize their company’s profits at the victim’s expense. However, a personal injury lawyer working on your behalf can ensure that you receive all available compensation from every party responsible for causing the accident.
Papermill Accident FAQs
Our law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with an insurance company when filing a financial compensation claim. A personal injury lawyer has answered some of those questions below.
For additional information and legal services, contact our law offices at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today.
Is Living by a Papermill Dangerous?
The air emissions escaping wood fibers during the papermaking process could lead to adverse health effects. Many paper mill workers and neighboring businesses/communities are exposed to highly toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds), total reduced sulfur compounds (TRS), nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other hazardous pollutants released in the air at the paper mill.
The National Institutes of Health state that “emissions from paper mills can produce strong odors in the communities in which they are located, where exposed populations include children, the elderly, people with respiratory conditions, and others who may be sensitive to air pollutants.”
Why Do Paper Mills Stink So Bad?
Heated wood fibers generate highly toxic volatile sulfur compound emissions during the papermaking process, including hydrogen sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl sulfide, and methyl mercaptan.
During most papermaking processes, the factory cooks the wood under high heat, releasing caustic chemicals that dissolve lignin, the glue that holds the wood fibers together. Under specific conditions, the toxic, hazardous chemicals are released in much higher concentrations where workers and communities must follow safety precautions to prevent exposure.
Many wood pulp mills release only a tiny amount of flammable gases and hazardous chemicals into the air. But, unfortunately, most are incredibly smelly, even at particulate levels of a few parts per million.
Is a Paper Mill Dangerous?
Papermill workers are exposed to a wide array of serious health risks every day. Common hazards in a workplace expose paper mill workers to lacerations and poisoning.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 10,000 injuries were reported in the wood pulp and paper industry in 2015, raising the alarm about the severe health risks of working in the papermaking industry.
Can Paper Mills Cause Cancer?
A study nearly two decades ago in British Columbia, Canada, revealed that the cancer rates of workers involving wood pulp and paper mills were significantly higher than the general population. Many of these injuries involved pleural mesothelioma due to exposure to toxic fibers and dust.
An NIH study in 2010 revealed that many chemical substances released in wood pulp and paper mills were potentially hazardous to humans. Additionally, many dangerous compounds were found in emissions, workplace environments, and water effluent, creating severe problems for the surrounding communities.
Hiring a Paper Mill Accident Lawyer to Resolve a Personal Injury Case
Were you injured in a paper mill accident, or did you lose a loved one through mesothelioma who inhaled caustic fibers at work? Have you already filed a workers’ compensation claim while you are not working, but it’s not enough to pay your bills?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our paper mill accident attorneys hold paper mill companies legally and financially accountable for severe injuries and wrongful death at their workplace.
As your legal counsel, your attorneys will obtain damages on your behalf to compensate for your emotional distress, pain & suffering, medical bills, lost wages, workers’ compensation benefits, future lost earnings, and funeral & burial expenses in wrongful death cases.
Our personal injury law firm offers every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee. This guarantee ensures that you will owe us nothing if we cannot obtain the compensation you deserve. Our workplace injury attorneys are located throughout Illinois and have handled numerous paper mill accident cases nationwide.
Call our law offices at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a no-obligation consultation today to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your workplace accident lawyer will constitute an attorney-client relationship.
- National Institute of Health – Paper Mill Associated Respiratory Problems
- NIH – Cancer Risk-Associated Toxicity at Wood Pulp and Paper Mills
Many workplace accident cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the medical treatment and care the accident victims require.