14 Feb Understanding Work-Related Diseases and What to Do if You Contract One While Working
Physical injuries that occur while on the job, are easy to diagnose, treat, and provide a recovery program back to better health. Diseases can take longer to diagnose because many are unseen until symptoms become evident enough that the worker must go to the doctor or, in severe cases, end up in the emergency room at the hospital.
The diagnosis of the disease is not always readily attributed to the workplace as the source of the illness without there being a further in-depth investigation. If more workers from the same business come down with similar symptoms, this can indicate that the disease was obtained while at work.
Different Types of Work-Related Diseases
Diseases can come from many sources, including from outside the workplace, but brought in by an unaware worker. Such diseases are bacterial or viral pneumonia, tuberculosis, viral bronchitis, and others, which can run rampant in the workplace until identified and contained.
Other diseases occur from being around workplace chemicals and are not contagious (person-to-person) but cause illnesses after workers have been in regular contact with these chemicals for months to years. Such contaminations are harder to tie to the workplace environment because while one person may get liver cancer, another may have kidney disease, breathing problems, heart trouble, or other illnesses.
Much of how these illnesses manifest, can be dependent on individual weaknesses in physical immune systems. Firefighters and other first responders can acquire different illnesses from prolonged exposure to disaster events (i.e., New York’s 9/11 first responders) but manifesting at different times. Mental and emotional trauma from these events can also cause physical manifestations of illnesses, up to and including death.
If several workers get some type of pulmonary disease, this may indicate that gases are causing breathing problems for workers. More ventilation in the workplace may be required, including a different grade of protective filter mask/respirator that must be worn by workers.
Keeping a Work Journal
Workers might consider keeping a daily work journal of what occurs on the job, such as any accidents that happen, either directly to the worker, or to another worker. In time, these notes might come in handy later for reviewing what happened on a certain day, even if an event appeared to be of little significance at that time.
While it might be annoying for those who do not really like to write or type notes, over time, it can become a useful habit that can later help the worker or assist in providing evidence for another worker. Entries should always be dated, and the journal kept in a safe place, inaccessible to others.
Annual Medical Checkups
Some of us must be dragged to the doctor’s office (or the dentist), but full annual checkups are important for monitoring the health status of any worker. Unless there is a problem evident, medical information and test results are kept safe and private from others by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996. If you should be diagnosed with an illness during a routine checkup that appears to be work-related, you must notify your employer and file a claim.
If you are unsure of how to proceed with your claim and the circumstances of your illness, call us at once for a free consultation. 602-346-9009.