What You Need to Know About Occupational Diseases

What You Need to Know About Occupational Diseases

A good employer wants to make sure their employees are taken care of should an unfortunate incident occur. Likewise, employees want to know that they will be adequately covered and protected if they sustain an injury in the workplace. 

With the wide range of industry-specific illnesses and diseases, it might seem unclear what is considered an occupational disease, whether the workplace or employee is to blame, and what is considered worthy of receiving compensation. 

Today, we will address this very issue and help give you a better understanding of how occupational diseases are handled under state law.

What Are Occupational Diseases?

Occupational diseases are classified as any disease or sickness that can develop from your regular work schedule, routine, or environment. Typically these diseases are related to specific occupations and have a higher chance of occurring in these occupations than usual. 

While it may seem like an easy diagnosis to give to employees, you must consider nine essential factors. These factors include the following:

  •  Strength of association or, in other words, a cause and effect. 
  • Consistency that contains results confirmed numerous times by different individuals in entirely different experiments. 
  • Specificity of association or a one-to-one relationship between the cause and effect. 
  • Temporal relationship, or proof that exposure came before the effect
  • Biological gradient is otherwise known as a dose-response relationship, exposure levels, and health effects.
  • Plausibility ensures that the cause and effect make sense.
  • Coherence makes sure that cause and effect associations do not conflict with existing knowledge.
  • Experimental evidence or more evidence that enhances our understanding of the cause and effect.

The Most Common Occupational Diseases

Dermatitis: These are skin diseases caused by chemical, physical, or biological agents. These have the chance to worsen over time into chronic skin diseases. 

Respiratory Illnesses: These commonly consist of asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung disease. In the workplace, these are commonly caused by chemicals.. 

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs): These develop through repetitive movement, sitting, standing, crouching, or hunching in awkward positions, repeated stress on the hands, back, legs, or arms, and moving heavy objects. Common examples include carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. 

Hearing Loss: For workers in industries with loud noises such as manufacturing and construction, but sometimes can even appear in workers in the healthcare and hospitality industry. 

Cancer: Due to carcinogenic substances in the workplace, there is a higher risk of employees developing cancer-related to these substances.

Stress and Mental Health Disorders: The deterioration of mental health can be associated with numerous jobs that feature much mental activity throughout the workday. The most common example would be PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  

Infectious Diseases: This applies to healthcare workers who have the highest risk of encountering a contagious disease. Examples include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tuberculosis (TB), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a worst-case scenario.

Pre Existing Conditions: Despite having them before entering the workplace, specific conditions in the workplace can make a worker’s preexisting conditions words. A good example is a past back injury becoming worse due to heavy, repetitive lifting. 

Is COVID 19 Considered an Occupational Disease?

COVID-19 has radically changed the workplace, where almost all industries faced new challenges and new safety standards to follow. 

Workers who can prove they were exposed to COVID-19 while on the job may qualify for temporary disability benefits while in quarantine. 

Specific jobs such as healthcare workers, first responders are the best examples of jobs that face a higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Minnesota has recently passed a temporary law that presumes these workers received COVID-19 on the job, giving them easier access to benefits and workers’ compensation.

For now, we highly recommend following health guidelines from both the CDC and state health departments to keep yourself and your co-workers safe.

Can Employees Be At Fault for Occupational Diseases? 

Unless the injury or disease  was self-inflicted, the employee is not at fault for injuries or occupational diseases sustained during their time working. Even in specific cases where the worker’s behavior or lifestyle contributed to their injury, they still are required to receive compensation. 

Protect Your Employees. Protect Your Business

The employer’s responsibility is to ensure that their employees are safe and taken care of should they sustain injuries, sicknesses, or diseases in the workplace. It is the law to ensure that an employee receives appropriate compensation if they received any injuries or illnesses, mental or physical, in the workplace.

Ensure you know the rules, laws, and, most importantly, potential risks your workplace can present to yourself and others to do your best to avoid them by following safety regulations.

For expertise in workman’s compensation law and to connect with compassionate legal counsel in Minnesota, reach out to Sundquist Law Firm. If you have been injured on the job or have contracted COVID-19 on the worksite, and can no longer work in your original capacity, we can help. We’re happy to help you fill out forms, prepare your evidence, and make your claim. Contact us today, and let Sundquist Law fight for you.