Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases

Work-related or occupational diseases and injuries in the private industry back in 2012 was almost at 3 million, based on records from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational diseases, in particular, refer to any type of chronic ailment that occurs as a result of occupational activity. Any disease of occupational origin, such as lung disorder, is completely preventable, but only with the correct workplace practices and safety equipment which employers are obliged to provide their workers. Despite regular exposure to dangerous substances, however, personal protective equipment (PPE), like fitted protective masks, are either not adequately provided by employers or are inconsistently used by employees (who may not have been given OSHA-mandated training on workplace safety), resulting to the development of chronic illnesses which render workers incapable of working further and/or which snatch away from them the quality of life.

As of 2014, Workers’ Compensation Insurance has been made available in all U.S. states. Though not required, majority of employers across the U.S. have voluntarily provided employees with this benefit due to the protection it offers firms or employers and employees alike. Aside from providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who get injured in the course of employment or who develop an occupational disease, this insurance also requires employees to relinquish their right to sue their employer for the tort of negligence. In certain cases, however, such as if an employee believes that his/her employer intentionally caused the harm, then he/she may rather choose to waive his/her right to claim benefits from Workers’ Compensation and file a tort case against his/her employer instead.

Workers who were, and still are, exposed to harmful substances are examples of those whose safety has been intentionally compromised by their employers in exchange for profit. Despite knowing that their workers face the risk of developing a chronic lung illness, many of these employers have allowed (and even required) workers to work in mines or be exposed to substances, like coal, which can cause coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also called black lung disease, which is an incurable occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of coal mine dust.

According to one Raleigh workers’ compensation attorney, occupational lung disorders are a frequent cause of work-related illnesses, yet they are in many cases completely preventable. With the right safety equipment and workplace practices, one can avoid developing a potentially life-threatening lung disease. Sadly, though, not all employers provide workers with adequate safety gear or safe workplace protocols that will protect them from developing any form of illness.

Well, no worker should his/her health and safety for a position at work. There are certain laws in place, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, that offer you protection from unsafe work environments. If any worker becomes subjected to dangerous work conditions, resulting in an occupational lung disorder, he/she should not hesitate approaching a knowledgeable lawyer who can help him/her pursue the necessary legal action to seek for compensation.

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