Occupational Diseases and Workers’ Compensation: What You Need To Know

Workers’ compensation is commonly associated with workplace injuries, however, you may also be eligible for compensation to cover occupational diseases as well. For starters, it can become very costly when an employee is unable to work because they are sick. Workers will have to navigate medical bills and treatments, covering these expenses and other living expenses without the support of their regular income. Thankfully, occupational diseases are covered by workers’ compensation. Ready to discover more about occupational diseases, different available treatments, and how you can claim workers’ compensation for your illness.

What is an Occupational Disease?

When regarding workers’ compensation, an occupational disease is an illness or impairment that occurred as a result of work activity or your workplace’s environmental conditions, potentially affecting various parts of the body such as bones, lungs, and muscles. Common types of occupational diseases include:

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal pain is often caused by repetitive motion and overuse. carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders and is also recognized as an occupational disease. Awkward wrist positions and repetitive hand motions happening daily can put pressure on your nerves and tendons in the carpal tunnel. Those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome often feel pins and needles in their fingers, weakness in the hands and wrists, and even pain in the shoulders. 

Alternating between activities to reduce the strain in your hands, wrists, and forearms is a great way to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. If possible, it is also good to make sure that your wrists are in a straight, neutral position if your job requires you to type on a computer daily.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis is identified as skin disease and can be commonly contracted in the workplace. Allergies, irritants, toxic chemicals, extreme temperatures, and parasites can all cause contact dermatitis. Victims of this skin disease will often notice an uncomfortable red rash in any areas that they may have come in contact with the irritant. People may also experience redness, blisters, fissures, peeling, and ulcers from this disease. Health care workers, construction workers, cleaners, agricultural workers, and cooks are typically at the highest risk when it comes to contact dermatitis.

The best way to prevent contact dermatitis in the workplace is to wash your skin regularly and moisturize, wear protective clothing or gloves, and identify and avoid any substances that have irritated your skin.

Hearing Loss

Occupational hearing loss is caused by people in the workplace who are constantly exposed to loud noises or ototoxic chemicals. According to the CDC, hearing loss is one of the most common work-related impairments in the US. There are certain industries such as construction, manufacturing, and mining that will likely have a higher amount of workers suffer from occupational hearing loss. Oftentimes, workers do not notice they are losing their hearing until the symptoms worsen over time. If you notice a buzzing sound in your ear or find yourself having to shout to your coworkers even within a short distance, you may be experiencing the first stages of hearing loss.

There are a few ways that workers can protect themselves from hearing loss including wearing proper hearing protection to work, having a hearing exam every year, and monitoring volume if possible.

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are caused by exposure to bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, and can be passed from person to person. A few common examples of occupational infectious diseases include tuberculosis, the common cold, influenza, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B. Healthcare workers are at high risk of these infectious diseases, as well as social service workers, correctional personnel, and other workers who may work regularly with populations who have increased rates of these diseases. 

Making sure to wash your hands regularly is probably the most effective way to avoid contracting an infectious disease in the workplace. It’s also important to remember to always cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, avoid contact with people who are showing symptoms of sickness and disinfecting your work area frequently.

Stress and Mental Disorders

Workplace stress can cause mental, emotional, and physical strain due to the anxiety caused by being overworked or being in a toxic work environment. Common signs of stress include an increased heart rate, muscle tension, headaches, shallow breathing, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and more. The most important step to take when you feel yourself becoming stressed is to identify the cause and know what situations are adding stress to your life. It’s also important to take time to recharge, establish healthy boundaries between work and life, and even seek counseling from a licensed professional.

As you can see, there are a variety of factors that can lead to these conditions in the workplace, and every business has the potential of posing the risk of occupational illness to their employers. If you are sick or suffering from an impairment that you believe was work-related, you should speak to an attorney about filing a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible to provide your employer with timely notice to avoid denial.

Seek Proper Treatment for Common Occupational Diseases

Occupational diseases are common, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed about what to do after suffering from a workplace disease.  If you have contracted a common occupational disease that you believe came from your workplace, Metro Healthcare Partners, a worker’s compensation clinic in Brooklyn, NY, can help. Our staff specializes in multiple areas relating to occupational diseases, and we are focused on helping our patients recover as quickly as possible.

Give us a call today at 718-769-2521 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Brooklyn workers’ compensation doctors. 

We accept workers’ compensation insurance, no-fault, medical liens, and medical major plans.