Exposure to potentially harmful substances while on the job can result in occupational induced diseases. Unlike other types of on-the-job injuries or illnesses, these illnesses can take years to develop and are usually caused by repeated exposure to harmful substances or material. For example, workers in the construction industry have developed lung diseases like mesothelioma after years of on-the-job exposure to asbestos. There are many types of occupational induced illnesses, and just as many career paths that lead to exposure to these substances. The one common elements is that any worker with an occupational induced illness or disease can and should file a workers’ compensation claim.
Lung Diseases Caused by Exposure
Lung diseases are the most common type of occupational induced illness. Black lung disease is often found in coal miners, due to the dust that gets into the air when separating coal from rock. Asthma is another lung disease that is caused by toxins in the air. Some workers, particularly those in construction industry, are likely to end up with it due to inhaling concrete dust and other fine particles.
Asbestos is likely the most well-known causative agent for occupational acquired lung disease. When asbestos is chronically inhaled over a period of time, it can result in mesothelioma, a very aggressive form of lung cancer. Although construction workers are the most common group found to have been exposed to asbestos, this material is also found in car and truck brake pads. Workers who make the pads, as well as the auto mechanics who install them, have been diagnosed with workplace-acquired mesothelioma.
In addition to the medical conditions noted above, COPD (also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and silicosis are also caused by workplace exposure. Dust, debris, fibers, hair, and various fumes can all be inhaled, leading to subsequent lung issues. Illness is associated with the length of exposure to substances, and the concentration of the substances in the air.
Other Forms of Occupational Illnesses
Although lung disease is the primary occupational induced illness, workers are diagnosed every day with other health conditions. For example, skin conditions can appear on people who have come into physical contact with harmful substances in the workplace. Skin cancer, various types of rashes, and even eczema and contact dermatitis are all diseases that may be caused by exposure to hazardous material. Daily chemical handling, even with the proper protections in place, may result in a chemical burn or other type of skin disease. Chemical exposure can also lead to chemical poisoning if the substance(s) enters the body via cuts or abrasions on the skin that were also the result of chemical exposure
Neurological disorders and hearing loss are two additional occupational-induced disorders. Working in loud conditions without proper ear protection can lead to hearing loss, particularly when high decibel conditions occur over a long period of time. In fact, even with ear protection, workers may still end up with hearing loss. The CDC reported over 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to daily loud noise every year.
When the human body is exposed to harmful materials, such as lead, chemicals and air pollutants, neurological disorders can develop. Examples include migraine headaches, muscle and nervous system conditions. The severity of the disorder depends on the toxins the worker is exposed to, as well as the overall length of the exposure and whether or not any protective protocols are in place. For example, if a worker wore a respirator while working, they may have been exposed to fewer toxins than someone who didn’t wear a respirator. Both individuals are still at risk of a neurological disorder, since their bodies process the toxins differently.
What Happens When You Develop an Occupational Illness?
According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, you have two years from the date of your diagnosis to file a workers’ compensation claim with the employer who exposed you to the toxin. You can still file a claim even if you no longer work for the company since they are responsible for your illness. It is in a person’s best interest to hire an attorney who is experienced with workers’ compensation claims since the employer may fight the claim. Your attorney will need to directly connect the exposure to your illness in order for your claim to be accepted.
If you have a been diagnosed with an occupational induced illness, call me today and I’ll Make Them Pay!®