When most people think of workers’ compensation, they think of dramatic injuries and accidents. They don’t often think of slowly developing conditions, like occupational diseases. Fortunately, workers’ compensation covers occupational diseases as well.
Your career can cause chronic conditions that don’t show up right away. These conditions can affect your quality of life every bit as much as a broken arm. We want you to stay informed about these occupational diseases so that, in the event you contract them, you know you can get compensation.
What Occupational Diseases to Watch For
Many diseases and conditions could arise from continued exposure at your workplace. Common occupational diseases include the following.
1. Hearing Loss
Many employees across industries experience some form of hearing loss. Hearing loss usually results from constant exposure to loud noises, including:
- Printers, copy machines, etc.
- Industrial or construction equipment
- Large washing machines or sewing machines
Hearing loss can also result from compressed air or blows to the head. If you’ve experienced hearing loss, evaluate how it occurred to see if you deserve compensation.
2. Musculoskeletal Disorders
Workers across industries also tend to develop musculoskeletal problems because they repeat the same tasks over and over. This can result in a number of disorders:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This affects your wrist after repetitive or forceful work or extreme wrist postures. The carpals, or bones in your wrist, could collapse without treatment.
- Radial styloid tenosynovitis: This often results for the same reasons as carpal tunnel syndrome. Radial styloid tenosynovitis can become a chronic condition.
- Olecrannon bursitis: If you experience prolonged pressure in your elbows, you could develop this disorder. You can get a similar disorder, prepatellar bursitis, in your knee.
- Meniscus lesions: These occur in your knee after you spend a lot of time kneeling or squatting.
You could also develop any number of other musculoskeletal disorders depending on which body parts you use at work. Consult with your doctor if you think you have a musculoskeletal disorder.
3. Skin Disorders
Skin disorders usually manifest as allergic reactions. You’ll see redness or other signs of irritation appear after exposure to a chemical agent of some kind. If these conditions persist, your skin could suffer permanent damage. You’ll also feel miserable at work.
In severe cases, your workplace could also cause disorders like vitiligo. When you have this condition, you lose pigment in your skin, hair, mucus membranes, or other areas. If you can prove that your work conditions caused this disorder, you have the right to compensation.
4. Asthma and Other Respiratory Problems
Chemicals can also cause adverse reactions in your lungs. If you constantly inhale dust, not only will you feel ill, but the dust may also destroy your lungs. Metal dust, cotton dust, and mineral dust can cause bronchopulmonary diseases or pneumoconiosis. These conditions will affect your quality of life-after all, if you can’t breathe, you can’t do any of the other activities you love either.
Sometimes airborne contaminants can also cause asthma, which will affect you for the rest of your life. You don’t deserve to suffer after all your hard work, so if you develop this condition, consult with your doctor to see if your workplace caused it.
5. Diseases Caused by Radiation
Does your line of work deal with X-rays or other radiation sources? You may slowly develop complications from constant exposure. These complications include cancer, radiation poisoning, and more.
Cancer can come from more than just radiation. You could also develop it because of the following:
- Coal tar, pitch, and soot
- Wood dust
- Cadmium, beryllium, nickel, benzene, benzidine, benzene, or erionite exposure
- Hepatitis B or C viruses
Cancer can occur for other reasons as well. If you have developed cancer, work with your doctor to try and find the cause.
7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
“Occupational diseases” can refer to mental conditions as well. If you deal with traumatic events at your workplace (even if you only deal with them once), and you develop this disorder, you have the right to workers’ compensation.
What to Do If You Get These Diseases
If you have any of the occupational diseases listed above, you may have the right to your employer’s help when paying for losses or treatment. Simply take the following steps:
- Meet with your preferred healthcare provider for an evaluation. He or she will analyze your condition to help you find its cause.
- If your workplace’s conditions caused the disease, let your employer know what happened.
- Contact a trusted lawyer to begin filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Once you and your lawyer have filed the claim, you just have to wait for approval, and then you’ll get the help you need. You work hard at your job, and you don’t deserve to develop an occupational disease because of it. You deserve fast relief. If you have one of these diseases, contact your lawyer to begin the filing process as soon as possible.