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Did your boss warn you about occupational disease hazards?

Many workplaces in Massachusetts expose workers to hazards that could cause harm and days off work. Depending on the type of industry in which you work, you might be at a higher risk of contracting a disease than suffering bodily injuries. Some develop over time and become a chronic or serious health issue years later.

Although you might feel comfortable with the knowledge that the workers' compensation insurance program will have your back if you should suffer workplace injuries, you might have questions about the type of coverage the system offers for occupational illnesses. Securing financial compensation might be challenging in such circumstances.

Potential occupational diseases

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to inform employees of all potential hazards. However, noncompliance is prevalent, and gaining knowledge about the potential health hazards might help you to avoid contracting a disease. If you recognize any telltale signs associated with an occupational illness, getting a medical evaluation might be wise.

Poisoning

Toxic substances can enter your bloodstream and other tissues after absorption through the skin, inhalation or ingestion. The following substances can cause poisoning:

  • Metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic
  • Gases and fumes like hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide
  • Organic solvents such as benzol, benzene and carbon tetrachloride
  • Insecticides like lead arsenate and parathion
  • Chemicals such as formaldehyde

Skin disease

Any exposure to poisonous plants, primary irritants, chemicals and other substances can affect your skin. The following diseases could develop:

  • Eczema
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Rash
  • Friction blisters
  • Oil acne
  • Skin inflammation
  • Chrome ulcers

Hearing loss

Exposure to excessive noise can cause hearing loss in the following circumstances:

  • A single loud noise such as a blast, explosion or arc flash
  • Frequent or continuous exposure to noise levels exceeding allowed levels

Respiratory conditions

Breathing in hazardous chemicals, biological agents, gases, fumes, dust or vapors can lead to the following respiratory diseases:

  • Asbestosis
  • Silicosis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Pneumonitis
  • Acute congestion
  • Rhinitis
  • Beryllium disease
  • Farmer's lung
  • Occupational asthma
  • Tuberculosis
  • Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS)
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic obstructive bronchitis
  • Metal fume fever

Other Occupational Diseases

Different seasons and exposure to other hazards can lead to any of the following conditions:

  • Cold exposure consequences such as frostbite, trench foot or hypothermia
  • Heat-related illnesses such heat stress, heat exhaustion, sunstroke or heatstroke
  • Ionizing radiation caused by x-rays, isotopes and radium
  • Nonionizing radiation from lasers, ultra-violet rays and welding flash
  • Anthrax from exposure to animals
  • Hepatitis B or C, HIV or AIDS from blood-borne pathogens
  • Malignant or benign tumors from exposure to carcinogens

Workers' compensation

How will you manage to provide for your loved ones if you contract one of these occupational diseases and are unable to return to work for an extended period? While you battle a potentially deadly illness, mounting medical bills and loss of income can exacerbate your poor health. The Massachusetts workers' compensation insurance program offers coverage for medical expenses and lost wages, and legal counsel can help you to prove your occupation caused your illness.

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