Occupational diseases are work-related illnesses or health conditions that stem from working conditions or hazardous exposure on the job. These diseases are similar to workplace injuries, in that employment itself leads to the harm in question.
Naturally, there are many different types of ailments that may qualify as occupational diseases, and workers have different levels of exposure to risk depending on their occupation. The following are some common examples of occupational diseases:
- Asbestosis: A respiratory disorder or lung condition that comes about because of long-term exposure to asbestos fibers. This can cause issues like scarring of the lung tissue.
- Noise-induced hearing loss: When workers face extended exposure to excessive noise levels, such as in construction sites or factories, it can cause irreversible damage.
- Occupational cancers: Exposure to carcinogens in the workplace can lead to various types of cancers, such as lung cancer due to asbestos exposure or mesothelioma, bladder cancer due to exposure to certain chemicals like benzidine or beta-naphthylamine.
- Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs): Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or bursitis caused by repetitive movements or poor ergonomics in the workplace, commonly seen in office workers, assembly line workers or those using computers extensively.
- Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs): Conditions affecting muscles, tendons, nerves and joints due to poor ergonomics or physically demanding work, such as back pain, strains or sprains.
These examples illustrate the diversity of health issues that can arise from prolonged exposure to specific workplace hazards or conditions, highlighting the importance of proper workplace safety measures and regulations to prevent occupational diseases.
When an occupational disease develops
if you have one of these diseases, how do you make a claim? There are two main things you’ll need to show in order to be granted benefits
- A serious impairment: First, you must have a serious or chronic physical impairment that requires treatment. This isn’t just minor discomfort. It’s helpful to have medical evidence to show the extent of the issue and how it occurred.
- A work-related issue: Next, you’ll need to prove that work activity or a work environment caused the specific ailment. A heart attack, for instance, may happen at work but is not necessarily work-related. It would need to be shown that something at work, such as overexertion, caused that heart attack.
If you do have an occupational disease, it may keep you out of work for an extended period of time. Be sure you know what you need to do to seek proper workers’ comp benefits and keep in mind that you can seek legal guidance at any time if you have questions or concerns.