Workers’ Compensation insurance is best known for covering work-related injuries. But it also provides coverage for those diagnosed with occupationally related diseases.
Many times, these diseases do not arise until sometime after a worker has left the place of employment in which he or she contracted the illness. The majority of occupational diseases are not reported, according to American Family Physician.
Occupation diseases are those in which a worker develops an illness due to exposure to some item in the work environment, resulting in sickness. Technically, influenza is an occupational disease if it is spreading through the workplace; but most occupational diseases for Workers’ Compensation purposes result in long-term impairment.
Such diseases often result from inhalants or other toxic materials to which the worker is exposed. Often, the company or the employee knows the danger of a particular material, but either does not warn workers in the first instance, or ignores warnings in the second.
Sometimes, a worker is not trained correctly in the handling of dangerous chemicals or toxins.
Common Occupational Diseases
The most common occupational diseases vary by industry. While most occupational diseases occur in those employed in industrial settings, office workers are also vulnerable to some occupational ailments.
The most common occupational diseases include:
- Asthma: An allergic reaction causing breathing difficulties.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Damage to the medial nerve in the wrist often caused by constant or repetitive wrist flexing, including typing all day on a computer.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A term for various progressive lung disorders, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
- Dermatitis: A skin reaction to a particular substance.
- Epicondylitis: Overuse of the tendon. Lateral epicondylitis refers to overuse of the forearm’s extensor tendon, while medial epicondylitis refers to overuse of the common flexor tendon in the upper arm.
- Hearing loss: In the workplace, hearing loss occurs most often because of constant exposure to high noise levels.
- Infectious diseases: Healthcare workers, corrections officers, social service personnel, and other workers who come into regular contact with those harboring infectious diseases are at increased risk. Such diseases include HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B and C.
- Mesothelioma: This cancer affects the lining of the lungs and eventually proves fatal. While mesothelioma may be treated, there is no cure. It affects workers who have been exposed to asbestos.
- Nerve damage: Workers may suffer neurological damage from exposure to certain contaminants.
Determining Whether a Disease is Occupational
When someone is injured at work, the situation is usually obvious. That is not necessarily the case with many occupational diseases, which is one reason why they are so underreported. Some patients may not realize the issues they are experiencing are connected with their work.
Doctors should always take a medical history of patients, and that includes present and former occupations. If a doctor suspects that a condition relates to an occupation, by law it is mandated that the physician report it to federal and state authorities.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Provide Legal Representation to Workers Suffering from Occupational Diseases
If you have been injured at work or diagnosed with an occupational disease, you need the services of the experienced Wilmington workplace injury lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call our office today at 302-888-1221 or use our convenient online form to contact us for a free case evaluation. We represent clients throughout Delaware, including Wilmington, Dover, Middletown and Newark, as well as across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.