Occupational illnesses are diseases or conditions caused by an industrial process that is contracted while at work. Under Ohio Revised Code § 4123.68, persons are protected and entitled to compensation (via workers’ compensation) if they contract an occupational illness that is included in the schedule of occupational diseases. If a person contracts a non-scheduled disease, they may still have a case depending on its cause (i.e. exposure to chemicals, infections, radiation, fumes, vibrating tools, mold/dust, or other toxic or harmful substances).
What Are the Most Common Types of Occupational Illnesses?
Occupational diseases can be a result of your workplace environment or the type of work that you do. For instance, if you work at a chemical plant, you may develop a debilitating respiratory issue, while working as a typist can lead to an impeding back or wrist condition. The most common occupational illness include:
- Hearing loss. An isolated explosion on a job site or prolonged exposure to other noises can cause hearing loss, which is why you should wear protective gear when possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), occupational hearing loss is the most common occupational illness in the U.S. Workers who are constantly exposed to loud noise, solvents, metals, heat, or asphyxiants are at the greatest risk of suffering from occupational hearing loss. However, noise is most commonly the cause of hearing loss, but the other factors in combination with noise can increase a person’s risk. Hearing loss can affect a person’s quality of life, lead to social isolation, cause tinnitus, limit a person’s ability to communicate with others, or diminish their ability to work or be productive while at work.
- Skin conditions. Workers can suffer from eczema, hives, rashes, contact dermatitis, or skin cancer because of prolonged exposure to chemicals, the sun, allergens, or contaminated liquids (including water). According to the CDC, irritant (or contact) dermatitis accounts for about 15%-20% of all reported occupational illnesses, and while each of these skin conditions can be inconvenient, skin and contact dermatitis are the most serious of these conditions and are most likely to have a long-term effect on those who contract these illnesses. Both conditions can lead to painful rashes or skin irritation, and skin cancer is often characterized by abnormal growths on the skin, painful skin tags, and moles.
- Respiratory issues. You may suffer from a host of respiratory issues if you are exposed to substances like toxic gasses, dust, pollution, or asbestos. The CDC reports that over 20 million people are exposed to toxins at work that can respiratory issues. Occupational asthma is the most reported occupational disease; other common occupational respiratory problems include asbestosis, tuberculosis, lung disease or cancer, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Workers with any of these conditions may be considered unemployable or may be unable to work because of the severity of their condition and the workplace conditions. Those at risk of contracting an occupational respiratory illness and being unable to continue their work are miners, bakers, automobile industry workers, factory workers, healthcare professionals, and construction professionals.
- Musculoskeletal disorders. Jobs that require a lot of movement or repetitive actions put their employees at risk of contracting occupational musculoskeletal conditions, such as herniated discs, arthritis, rotator cuff tendinitis, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Low back pain and disorders are the most reported nonfatal occupational illnesses. If you are a warehouse employee, nurse, typist, butcher, baker, cashier, or have a similar career, you are most at risk for this type of occupational illness.
- Fertility issues or pregnancy abnormalities. If you work in a factory or environment with a lot of chemicals or chemical mixtures, these biological agents can negatively impact your fertility or lead to pregnancy or birth abnormalities. Birth defects are one of the leading causes of infant mortality, and fertility, pregnancy, and birth issues can lead to a lot of physical and mental health issues in parents and their children.
Occupational Illness Claims & Causal Links
For your workers’ compensation claim concerning an occupational disease to be successful, you will need to prove that:
- You have been professionally diagnosed and have an illness.
- The illness is the direct result of exposure to a hazard or toxin.
- You came into contact with the toxin primarily while at work.
- You are unable to work because of your medically diagnosed illness.
Suffering from an Occupational Illness? Contact Our Firm Today!
At Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC, we can fight for your right to compensation after suffering an occupational illness. While these claims can be complex as it relates to establishing a causal link between workplace exposure and your illness, our attorneys are committed to doing the work to help you achieve the best possible case results. Occupational illnesses can affect your financial and physical health as they can lead to permanent or long-term disabilities, extensive medical bills, lost wages, and other economic and noneconomic damages.
Contact our team online or via phone (937) 403-9033 today. We can help you understand your legal rights and options as it relates to workers’ compensation.