An occupational disease is an ailment that develops over time due to exposure to dangerous chemicals and fumes or through a repetitive type of strain that causes injury and illness. The difference between an occupational disease and a traditional on-the-job injury is that an occupational disease develops over a period of time rather than being the result of one particular injury.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2014 there were nearly three million non-fatal work injuries and illnesses in the United States. Fatal work injuries increased slightly from 2013 and resulted in 4,679 deaths. Approximately 5% of these injuries represent those who suffer from an occupational disease.
Below is an overview of the most common forms of occupational disease.
- Carpal tunnel—The number of people suffering from this painful disease is widespread. Workers who use their hands and wrists in a repetitive manner are most likely to suffer from the pains of carpal tunnel.
- Asbestos—Years ago people did not understand the dangers of breathing asbestos, and unfortunately many have died or suffered from mesothelioma as a result. People today still suffer from unknowingly ingesting or inhaling asbestos from construction sites and various other places.
- Chemical poisoning—This is a very common problem that can result in workers suffering and dying from illnesses. In fact, the CDC reports that more than 13 million American workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals, some of which can even be transported through the skin. Skin exposure is equally as dangerous as inhaling a poisonous chemical.
- Pesticide poisoning—In the late 1980’s this was a serious problem; nearly 50% of all occupational diseases were a result of pesticides. The number has decreased due to education and prevention. However, poisoning still occurs and can affect a number of different parts of the body including the respiratory, gastro and nervous systems as well as the intestinal track.
If you have suffered or are currently suffering from any sort of disease that you believe is due to exposure at your workplace, speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your area. Continue reading articles in our knowledge center to learn more about workers’ compensation.