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Home > Blog > Workers Compensation > Are Illnesses Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
by: NPHM | April 11, 2022

Are Illnesses Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

For many people, the term “workers’ compensation” conjures up images of employees getting injured on the job. They may think of factory workers, roofers, carpenters, and other people who work in hands-on careers that put them at high risk of disabling injuries. And while these professions and injuries do cover many workers’ compensation claims, there are other types of workplace ailments that are covered, too.

Illnesses are a major threat for many workers in Ohio, and thankfully, they are covered by workers’ compensation. Illnesses can be just as, if not more, disabling than injuries. And while workers are likely to recover from most occupational injuries, certain occupational illnesses can result in lifelong health problems and even death.

How Do Workers Get Illnesses on the Job?

Workers’ compensation refers to workplace illnesses as occupational diseases. These types of diseases can result from many types of work. People who work in manufacturing, construction, and waste management and disposal are among the highest risk population for contracting occupational diseases. However, even people who work in offices, schools, and other seemingly low-risk areas can develop occupational diseases.

Factors that can put people at risk of developing occupational disease include exposure to:

  • Airborne dust and particles
  • Gases and fumes
  • Dangerous chemicals
  • Hazardous substances
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Toxic mold
  • Radiation
  • Other environmental factors

To comply with state and federal guidelines, workplaces that put employees at risk of occupational diseases must be safety oriented. Workers must be given adequate training, supervision, and safety equipment to reduce their risks of illnesses. However, that doesn’t always happen, and the safety provisions don’t always work.

What Types of Illnesses Can Workers Develop?

There’s a risk of developing an occupational disease with almost every profession and job. Some of the most common types of workplace illnesses include:

  • Mesothelioma and asbestosis—Asbestos hasn’t been used in buildings and construction in several decades. However, it’s still used in certain industries, and it still exists in countless buildings and structures throughout the U.S. That means that millions of people are still exposed to it frequently, putting them at risk of cancer and lung inflammation.
  • Respiratory illnesses—Even when workers aren’t exposed to asbestos, they can still be harmed by breathing in harmful and contaminated air. Everything from disturbed dust particles to dangerous fumes to hazardous gases can put workers at risk while they’re on the job.
  • Local and systemic infections—Infection is a serious risk for workers who touch or are around microbes. This can include laboratory workers, hospital workers, and even people who work in sanitation and custodial positions. Professions that are likely to result in skin abrasions and cuts can increase the risk of developing serious skin infections, including MRSA.
  • Sick building syndrome—Workers who do their jobs in offices and other well-maintained buildings are often at a lower risk of occupational diseases, but they may still develop illnesses caused by high levels of radon, carbon monoxide, and even toxic mold. These conditions may go undetected for years or even decades all while causing serious health problems in employees.

What Should You Do if You Develop an Occupational Disease?

If you get sick and suspect that your illness is related to your job, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Getting officially diagnosed is the foundation for your potential workers’ compensation claim. After receiving a diagnosis, contact your employer and tell them what you’re experiencing and what you’ve been diagnosed with.

Unfortunately, occupational diseases can be just as difficult to get approved for workers’ compensation as injuries. In fact, they may be even more difficult, as many develop over time. That means that there isn’t a single incident that workers can point to and have witnesses or video footage to back up their claims. Instead, they must prove that their illnesses are job-related by linking their symptoms to their occupations.

Our Lawyers Can Help with Your Occupational Disease Workers’ Comp Claim

When you tell your employer you’ve developed a disabling occupational disease, they may deny that it was caused by your job. This is especially common if they believe they did everything “by the book” to reduce or prevent workplace illnesses. But no safety measures are 100% effective, and workers can and do get sick all the time.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we’ll help with all aspects of your occupational disease claim. From working with your employer and collecting evidence, to building your claim and navigating the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) system, you can count on our team of Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers to get the job done.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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