Workers’ compensation not only covers job-related injuries, but also allows recourse for employees who suffer from an occupational disease. Occupational illnesses are those contracted because of the worker’s line of work. These diseases can cause great pain and suffering for both the family and patient.
Some examples of occupational diseases include:
Lung diseases: One of the most common occupational diseases, silicosis occurs after inhaling a significant amount of silica dust. According to state laws, this disease could be prevented by following several precautionary measures.
Histoplasmosis: Also known as Darling’s disease, this type of occupational illness is a fungal infection that primarily affects the lungs. Companies with employees who may be exposed to this fungus should follow guidelines on protective gear and prevention.
Hearing loss: As an occupational illness, hearing loss generally occurs because of loud noises on the work site. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends employees exposed to loud noises should wear hearing protectors when hazardous noises cannot be controlled or eliminated.
Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome: Similar to asthma, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome occurs after a healthy asymptomatic individual is exposed to concentrated respiratory irritants.
Asbestosis: Caused by exposure to asbestos, asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the lungs.
Mesothelioma: Also caused by asbestos exposure, mesothelioma typically develops in workers who handle the material on a daily basis. Shipbuilders, pipefitters, firefighters and auto mechanics are just a few of the workers who may be at risk for developing this deadly cancer.
Occupational diseases can affect workers in nearly every job, though some occupations carry a higher risk for developing these diseases. Workers at the greatest risk for occupational illness include those in the construction, pest control, farming and food service industries. In addition, employees who handle toxic gases, pesticides, nitrogen compounds and mineral dusts also have a high risk of occupational disease.