Occupational diseases and disorders are generally caused by prolonged exposure to toxins or repetitive activity in the workplace. These factors can cause disease or worsen a pre-existing condition. For example, a person who suffered from asthma as a child may experience a heightening of symptoms due to workplace exposure.
Examples of some common occupational disorders and some of their causes include:
- Musculoskeletal Disorders: caused by repetitive motions, extreme force, and vibrations
- Asthma: caused or aggravated by chlorine, dust, and smoke
- Mesothelioma: a form lung cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles
- Allergic contact dermatitis: caused by skin exposure to chemicals such as solvents and cutting fluids
- Occupational Hearing Loss: Can be caused by exposure to a one-time loud explosion or occur over time through prolonged exposure to loud noises
The above is not a comprehensive list but merely a glance at some of the most common occupational illnesses. Occupational disease differs from acute injuries, which are usually caused by a one-time accident or mishap. Occupational diseases are just as serious as workplace injuries and can lead to long-term disability and even death.
Occupational Disease Prevention
The first step to prevent an occupational disease from occurring in the workplace is to identify the hazards present in the environment. Common hazards that can lead to an occupational disease are grouped into four categories:
- Physical: temperature, noise, radiation
- Chemical: liquids, gasses, air particles
- Biological: bacteria, fungi, viruses
- Ergonomic incompatibility: between the workers, tools, and environment
Once occupational hazards have been identified, the number one way to prevent disease is to eliminate the hazard from the environment. If the hazard cannot be completely eliminated, hazardous materials or tools can be substituted with non-hazardous items.
If further methods are needed to keep employees safe, engineering controls should be employed. For example, engineering controls can help to reduce the risk of inhaling hazardous debris and particles by maintaining a good ventilation system, isolating hazardous equipment, and spraying down dust in the air with water.
Do I Qualify for South Carolina Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation does include coverage for occupational diseases, and workers could receive reimbursement for medical treatment, recovery costs, disability, and lost wages. However, a disease may not qualify for coverage if one of the following applies:
- Disease did not result directly from exposure to the hazards present in the workplace
- Disease resulted from exposure to outside climatic conditions
- Disease resulted from exposure to fellow employees
- Disease resulted from a hazard to which the individual would have been equally exposed outside of employment
- Disease is a chronic disease of the skeletal joints
Workers who suffer disease or injury from exposure to hazards in the workplace will need a medical diagnosis to determine the cause of their injury. An experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help to discover evidence that a disease was caused by exposure or activity in the workplace.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Workers Exposed to Toxins in the Workplace
Whether you or a loved one has been injured in a devastating workplace accident or suffer from an occupational disease, an experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. can examine the details of your case to determine the type of compensation to which you may be entitled. Schedule a free, initial consultation today by calling at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 or submit an online inquiry form.
We have offices across South Carolina to assist clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.