Injured workers: What are the causes of workplace illnesses?

Although Colorado workers in various industries are frequently exposed to workplace injury hazards, not all consequences are physical injuries. Injured workers can suffer the consequences of exposure to workplace illness threats that may not be immediately recognized as occupational. Exposure to extreme weather conditions can cause heat or cold-related illnesses, and workers in some occupations may suffer the consequences of radiation, blood-borne pathogens, welding flash and more.

Skin disorders or diseases are prevalent in all industries in which workers are exposed to plants, chemicals and other hazardous substances. Victims can develop dermatitis, rash or eczema, acne, ulcers, blisters and skin inflammation. When toxic substances are absorbed or ingested, poisoning can occur. This can result from exposure to gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide, and organic solvents such as carbon tetrachloride, benzol or benzene. Pesticides and other chemicals like formaldehyde can also cause poisoning.

Respiratory illnesses result from inhalation of hazardous chemicals like biological agents, gases, fumes, vapors and dust. These diseases include asbestosis, silicosis, farmer’s lung, acute congestion, occupational asthma, tuberculosis and several other respiratory conditions. Excessive noise in the workplace can cause hearing loss that is irreversible. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict regulations to protect workers from these hazards, but not all employers comply.

When the first sign of a workplace illness appears, it might not immediately be recognized as work-related. A wise move may be to seek medical attention and to explain the work environment to the physician. If the doctor determines that the illness is work-related, it may help to motivate benefits claims that the victim can file with the workers’ compensation insurance program. Some injured workers in Colorado choose to utilize the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help with the navigation of their benefits claims.

Source: bls.gov, “Occupational Safety and Health Definitions“, Accessed on Feb. 16, 2018

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