What Is an Occupational Illness?

The American media does a relatively decent job of reporting on the pervasiveness of occupational injuries that occur in workplaces throughout the U.S. on an annual basis. Statistics related to injury frequency and type are reported on each year like clockwork, even if the coverage deserves to be treated more urgently than it is. However, the prevalent nature of occupational illness in the American workplace is rarely reported on, even though the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational illness costs Americans approximately $67 million annually.

An occupational illness is caused by workplace exposure to a substance other agent that causes a worker to become sick. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to pinpoint the source of occupational illness and therefore, many workers are unaware that it is their working conditions that are causing them to become ill. Also unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to convince a workers’ compensation claims adjuster that a particular illness was caused by workplace exposure. As a result, obtaining any workers’ compensation benefits that an employee is rightfully entitled to can be challenging without the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Occupational Illness and Workers’ Compensation – The Basics

According to a paper published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, occupational asthma and occupational chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are the two most common occupational illnesses suffered by workers in industrialized nations. Too often, workers are not provided with proper protective equipment designed to minimize their exposure to gases, fumes, dust, smoke, and nonspecific vapors. Similarly, workers are not always given access to proper protective equipment to guard their skin against exposure to irritants, biologic agents, and other catalysts for occupational contact dermatitis, which is also common among workers in industrialized nations. Additionally, workers too often suffer from mesothelioma, other cancers, autoimmune conditions, and a host of other challenges caused by occupational illness.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that allows eligible employees to seek benefits for occupational illness (almost always) regardless of who or what caused the exposure. However, as workers’ compensation claims adjusters may try to blame an individual’s diagnosis on personal lifestyle choices and non-work circumstances, it’s generally a good idea to speak with an attorney about your situation before beginning the process of filing a claim.

Legal Assistance Is Available

If you’ve been made ill by your working conditions, please don’t wait to connect with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. The law only allows you so long to file a claim before you will become barred from seeking any compensation to which you may be entitled. Regardless of what your exact diagnosis is, please schedule a consultation with a lawyer, like a workers’ compensation lawyer from The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, today to explore your legal options. When you’ve been made sick by your working conditions, the last thing you need is to be held responsible for the costs associated with that challenging condition.