Occupational Diseases & Workers Compensation
Throughout a lifetime, most people spend about a quarter of their lives at work, which means it’s common for workers to face occupational diseases. In today’s society, when a worker can prove that a chronic or ongoing illness stems from his or her job, that worker is eligible for worker’s compensation.
Florida state law treats occupational diseases like workplace accident injuries, meaning that you must prove the connection between your illness or injury before you can receive compensation. Medical testing and a doctor’s analysis are important components for proving the connection between the disease and the occupation. Moreover, the disease must have a history tied with the occupation, obvious causes, and recognized exposure to harmful substances.
Common Occupational Diseases
- Lung Diseases (miners, farmworkers, etc.)
- Skin Diseases (farmworkers, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers)
- Mold-caused Illnesses
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (desk workers, computer workers)
- Hearing Loss (warehouse workers, etc.)
- Lead Poisoning (industrial workers)
- Radiation Sickness
- Contact Dermatitis (dishwashers)
- Blood Diseases (lab technicians, doctors, nurses, etc.)
Occupational diseases vary industry to industry so it’s vital for workers to be aware of what’s common within their field. In some cases, workers can gain workers’ compensation for pre-existing ailments that were aggravated due to their job. An occupational disease is not something to ignore, and it’s important to take steps to receive the benefits and relief that may be available to offset some of the costs.
Prove Occupational Disease
Upfront, it seems simple to make the connection between a disease and an occupation. First, the disease must be recognized as being characteristic of a certain job, meaning that there are previous records of others with the same job having this disease or obvious health hazards in the job that cause the disease. Secondly, the disease cannot be something that the public would normally experience.
Recognizing the distinction between normal diseases and occupational diseases can be tricky. For example, while some diseases may occur in regular life, certain occupations may increase the risk of specific diseases for some workers. Making that connection can be difficult, however. Another issue with the occupational disease is that sometimes the disease occurs over a long period of time. For example, a mine worker may not develop a lung disease until much later in life, but the intensity of the disease may be due to his exposure to harmful substances from his job.
Another example is if an individual is a firefighter and is diagnosed with heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, cancer, or Leukemia, it’s likely that their condition is categorized as an occupational disease. This presumption makes it much easier for firefighters to gain workers’ compensation because there is a track record of these diseases being an occupational hazard of their role.
While these might seem like simple conclusions to draw, the process itself can be complicated, especially since it involves legal paperwork, doctors, and much more.
It should also be noted that when a pre-existing injury is further aggravated by the onset of an occupational disease that this too is covered by workers’ compensation.
Keys to Proving Occupational Disease
- Strong medical link between disease and occupation
- Low likelihood of exposure to harmful substances outside of work
Exposure to harmful substances, chemicals, and toxins are the leading causes of the occurrence of occupational diseases. And in most cases, these diseases would be preventable with the right safety precautions and protective gear. For example, the first reported occupational disease was chimney sweep cancer, which occurred due to the exposure of chimney sweeps to breathing harmful toxins day-in and day-out.
Proving an Occupational Disease
Although not impossible to prove that your disease was caused by your occupation, it can be difficult to wade through the legal paperwork and the overall system to prove that your disease is eligible for worker’s compensation. Moreover, if you’re suffering from a disease, consider the benefits of focusing on your health while someone else fights for your legal rights.
At Carrillo & Carrillo, we know what it takes to ensure that you receive your workers’ compensation. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what your legal options may be.