Understanding Occupational Illnesses
Is your job making you sick? We are not talking about workplace frustrations like not enough pay for too much work. We’re talking about actual illnesses.
Occupational illnesses are a serious concern for people in numerous jobs and industries. Each day at work, someone in such an industry might be exposed to a situation or condition that could cause them to fall ill.
Different workplaces where occupational illnesses are a daily concern include:
- Medical clinics: Doctors, nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, and others who work in the healthcare industry are perhaps at the greatest risk of contracting an occupational illness. Helping a sick patient has an inherent chance of the healthcare working also contracting that illness if it is contagious.
- Mining operations: Miners and excavators who work underground or in strip mines are constantly enclouded by dust, dirt, mineral residue, and other airborne contaminants that are freed by the very process of their work. Inhaling those materials can be severely damaging the lungs, throat, esophagus, and so on. It is not uncommon for a miner to be diagnosed with a chronic and potentially terminal respiratory illness after years of working in that role.
- Factories: Industrial workers in factories, manufacturing plants, and other similar facilities might be at risk of exposure to caustic and toxic chemicals. Even when stored “properly,” constant exposure to such substances can be hazardous. Various cancers may develop from working around dangerous chemicals for years or if a worker is directly exposed to them in an accident. For example, many agricultural workers have been found to be at risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) for working with the herbicide called Paraquat.
- Retail: Any worker who faces the public with constant and close interactions could be at risk of an occupational illness. Retail workers who must work closely with customers, for example, could contract an illness from them. However, it is usually next to impossible to correlate such a worker’s illness to their occupation because they could have caught the flu, a cold, etc. from any other source while outside work.
Workers’ Comp for Illnesses
If you work in an industry that is known to cause certain illnesses, and you are diagnosed with such an illness, then you might be able to get workers’ compensation. As long as you contracted the illness in relation to your job duties, workers’ comp should trigger and pay for your medical costs and a portion of your lost wages. Occupational illness cases are notoriously difficult to win, though, because insurers often try to argue that the illness was caused by exposure outside the workplace. It is recommended that you work with a workers’ compensation attorney immediately if you think you have a case.
McHargue & Jones, LLC offers legal counsel and representation to workers in Chicago. We’re here to support people in all industries and from all walks of life. Contact us today to learn more.