People fall ill for many reasons. Someone at work brings their cold with them and spreads it around to others, or maybe the stomach flu invades through a child in school or daycare. Sometimes you just start to have aches, pains or feel generally blah and you don't know why.
When the source is uncertain, the workplace deserves investigation. If your illness traces to work conditions, getting the treatment you need and other benefits you are entitled to can get complicated.
What counts as an occupational illness?
The array of possible health problems attributable to work conditions is extensive. Typical injuries might include sprains, strains, cuts or any of the many forms of repetitive stress injury that a worker can endure. When it comes to illness, the list is even broader. Four types of disorders get special focus from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Skin diseases: Exposure to irritants in the form of chemicals, vegetation or other substances can lead to skin infections, rashes or burns.
- Lung conditions: Anyone who has cleaned the bathroom with ammonia knows it doesn't take much to make a person choke up. Exposure to chemicals, fumes or particulates can be hazardous, even if you wear all the right protective gear but don't happen to wear it correctly.
- Poisoning: With an average size of about 20 square feet, the skin is the human body's largest organ. That's a lot of surface area through which to absorb toxic substances. You can breathe in toxins, too. And over time the deadly stuff builds up in your system.
- Hearing Loss: The source doesn't have to be a jackhammer. It may just be something that puts out constant noise at a dangerous decibel level. Experts say anything over 85 dB can be a problem.
Besides those broad umbrella disorders are such illnesses as:
- Heat or sunstroke
- Hypothermia and frostbite
- Radiation sicknesses
- Pathogens spread by air or through bodily fluids
Workers' compensation is no-fault coverage. That does not mean claims are never denied. If they are, or even before they are, consulting an experienced attorney is the way to be sure you know your compensation rights and options.