Workers’ compensation is designed to offset the cost of medical expenses and lost wages when a worker is injured, or develops an illness while on the job. When a worker develops an occupational disease as a result of their employment, they can file a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
What is an occupational disease?
According to the BWC, an occupational disease claim “generally results from repeated work-related exposure…[which] has a harmful effect on the employee.” There must be a “causal relationship between the exposure and the harmful effect,” which is confirmed by a medical diagnosis, and the conditions of the worker’s employment must “cause a greater hazard to the worker than to the general public.”
Occupational diseases may be caused by:
- Chemicals and toxic substances
- Dust, gases and fumes
- Extreme changes in temperatures, noises or pressure
- Infections and organisms
- Physical vibrations, constant pressure or use, physical movement in constant repetition or radioactive rays
Most common occupational diseases
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has studied occupational diseases for decades. Here are a few of the most common conditions:
- Allergic and irritant dermatitis: Allergic and irritant dermatitis, also known as contact dermatitis, is the most common form of occupational skin diseases. Skin diseases account for 15 to 20 percent of all reported occupational diseases, across all industries. When the skin is exposed to chemicals and contaminants, it can trigger painful and unpleasant reactions.
- Asthma and COPD: Airway diseases, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are the most commonly diagnosed respiratory diseases. Millions of workers are exposed to sensitizers and irritants, which can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. It’s estimated that as many as 30 percent of all adult asthma and COPD cases have roots in the patient’s occupational exposure.
- Fertility and pregnancy abnormalities: Millions of workplace chemicals may cause fertility problems and pregnancy abnormalities—but since they remain largely untested, their use continues. NIOSH reports these chemicals can cause “birth defects, developmental disorders, spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, preterm birth, and various other disorders affecting offspring; they also include reduced fertility, impotence, and menstrual disorders.”
- Infectious diseases: Workers may contract infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis B and C and HIV. Healthcare workers, social workers and corrections officers are particularly at risk for infectious disease exposure.
If you believe you have developed an occupational disease, help is available. Contact Dworken & Bernstein for assistance with your workers’ compensation occupational disease claim.