The Rhode Lawyer Comes To You!

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Workers' Compensation
  4.  » Occupational diseases can be debilitating

Occupational diseases can be debilitating

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

The Rhode Island workers’ compensation program provides financial assistance to people who are injured in workplace accidents, and workers who develop job-related illnesses can also apply for benefits. There are many kinds of occupational diseases, but most of them fall into one of two categories. Workers either become sick after being exposed to toxic substances while on the job, or they develop musculoskeletal conditions because performing their tasks involves making repetitive motions, lifting heavy objects or remaining in awkward positions for prolonged periods.

Toxic substances in the workplace

Some of the most serious occupational diseases are caused by exposure to toxic substances like dangerous chemicals and asbestos. Long-term exposure to these substances can cause cancer, and avoiding them is may not be possible in industries like construction and shipbuilding. Medical professionals sometimes become aware of these diseases when workers get sick. In 2000, a doctor noticed that eight workers at microwave popcorn factory had developed similar respiratory symptoms. They became sick after being exposed to a chemical used to flavor food called diacetyl, which is why bronchiolitis obliterans is now commonly called popcorn lung.

Musculoskeletal conditions

Musculoskeletal conditions are disorders or injuries that affect the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons, and even workers with sedentary jobs can be diagnosed with them. Office workers often develop carpel tunnel syndrome because the way their arms rest when they use keyboards can place pressure on the median nerve. Lifting heavy objects or holding awkward positions for long periods can also cause musculoskeletal disorders. The people diagnosed with these conditions may encounter problems when they apply for workers’ compensation benefits if their employers claim that their injuries or illnesses are not job-related. This often happens when injured or sick workers have active lifestyles or play sports.

Preventing workplace illnesses

Job-related illnesses can be serious and life-threatening, but they may be prevented if workers are made aware of occupational risks and provided with protective equipment. Training workers how to perform their tasks in a safe manner could prevent musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, and respirators could protect workers from airborne contaminants like diacetyl and asbestos dust.