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Widow sues employers after husband dies from benzene exposure

According to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration, benzene is a component derived from coal and petroleum that is found in gasoline and other fuels. Most commonly, benzene is used in the making of plastics, detergents, pesticides and other chemicals.

OSHA reports that Benzene is also extremely dangerous to humans and exposure over time can cause leukemia. Short-term exposure to high levels of benzene can cause dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness and even death. That is why OSHA strictly regulates benzene exposure in the workplace. When these regulations are not closely followed, tragedy can result.

Recently, a widow from Southeast Texas filed a wrongful death against her late husband's former employers, saying that he died as a result of being exposed to benzene on the job. The lawsuit against Atlantic Richfield, Beazer East and Equistar GP was filed on July 5 in Jefferson County District Court.

The widow alleges that her late husband worked for these three companies as a mechanic from 1967 to 1983 at their Port Author facilities, and was regularly exposed to the toxic chemical benzene. She charges that the benzene exposure caused her husband to develop chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which eventually took his life.

The three companies, the widow states, knew that benzene exposure was dangerous, but maliciously chose not to warn her husband of the risks. The widow seeks an unspecified amount of damages in the wrongful death lawsuit.

This is a tragic situation that is all too familiar to the families of workers who were exposed to benzene. Today, most employers follow OSHA's regulations regarding benzene exposure. However, many employers in the past failed to protect their workers and many developed fatal illnesses as a result.

Source: Southeast Texas Record, "Widow brings benzene suit on late husband's behalf," David Yates, July 11, 2012

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