Workplace illnesses are disorders or conditions that result from working in a harmful or compromised working environment. According to the 1970 Occupational Health and Safety Act, occupational illnesses are referred to as diseases that result from exposure to dangerous biological agents or chemicals, affecting the worker’s physiological mechanisms.
That said, occupational illnesses usually develop over a long period of time and are a result of company negligence. For instance, if you were exposed to chemicals or agents in the past, symptoms might appear after 10 to 40 years of exposure.
What’s more, according to the EU-OSHA (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work), the number of workplace-related incidents has reduced by twenty-five percent. Nevertheless, occupational illnesses have caused around 2.4 million deaths worldwide.
Therefore, you must learn more about these occupational diseases and identify ways to manage them if contracted. For that particular reason, the EU-OSHA, the ILO, and the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) have created a list of the most common occupational diseases that workers can encounter.
Let’s look at some of the occupational illnesses in more detail.
According to EU-OSHA, occupational cancer accounts for 24% of workplace-related deaths worldwide. Workers develop occupational cancers when they come into physical contact with carcinogenic materials or substances at their workplace.
Different materials cause particular cancers, and most of these carcinogenic elements are mainly present in a few industries.
That said, asbestos exposure at the workplace is one of the most common reasons for instances of cancer. These include mesothelioma, lung cancer, cancer of the pharynx and larynx, etc. However, if you feel symptoms related to cancer, consult a doctor, immediately.
If you’re diagnosed with cancer in the lining of your lungs due to asbestos exposure, your oncologist will present you with mesothelioma treatment options to manage the disease. But, since the cancer is terminal, hire an experienced attorney to file for compensation against your company.
Occupational Contact Dermatitis.
Skin diseases like contact dermatitis is one of the most common types of occupational illnesses. It is a result of exposure to parasites, some animals, plants, mechanical labor, radiation, temperature changes, chemicals, irritants, and allergies.
According to the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), around 13 million American workers are at risk of being exposed to elements at work that might cause contact dermatitis.
Occupational dermatitis, also known as eczema, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all occupational skin diseases in the United States. Generally, symptoms include; dry/flaky skin, redness of the skin, pain, itching, etc.
However, you can treat this disease with the help of proper medication. That said, steroid therapy, antihistamines, or cool/damp dressing might be required to treat severe cases of contact dermatitis.
Furthermore, avoiding hazardous irritants, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen can prevent contact dermatitis from forming.
According to OSHA, work-related factors contribute to around 15 percent of asthma cases in the United States. Asthma is a medical condition that causes symptoms like coughing, chest tightness, breathing difficulty, and other respiratory system issues.
Moreover, occupational asthma can be caused by various reasons, from allergies associated with specific materials, animals, and irritants like ammonia or chlorine.
Furthermore, insecticides, insulation, paint, and other environmental elements that can be inhaled might lead to asthma in employees. What’s more, this occupational illness affects every individual differently, with some having more severe symptoms than others.
To avoid occupational asthma, workers must prevent exposure to environmental elements that are known to cause this illness. Visit an immunologist or allergist for medication to address breathing difficulties.
Occupational Covid Exposure.
COVID-19 is still on the table as an occupational illness employees can contract if they don’t take health & safety measures seriously. According to OSHA, healthcare and morgue workers are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than others.
Nowadays, regulatory bodies and governments are actively promoting prevention and safety guidelines to reduce the spread of this infectious disease.
In fact, according to OSHA’s Control and Prevention guidelines, recognizing personal risk factors, covering your face and mouth while coughing or sneezing, washing your hands with soap and sanitizer are recommended practices.
Health practitioners who work directly with COVID-19 positive patients must take extra precautions at their workplace. After all, your chance of exposure to this deadly virus will decrease as the number of people you come in contact with decreases.
Occupational hearing loss.
Employees who work around excessive noise and loud machinery day in and day out will undoubtedly face hearing loss as they grow older. What’s more, despite the use of ear protection, hearing loss is prevalent in the construction industry due to the job’s nature.
However, if you’ve recently experienced some form of hearing loss, undergoing a hearing evaluation will allow you to identify the extent of the damage. That said, you might also be eligible for worker’s compensation if you can provide evidence of your employer’s negligence.
It is of the utmost importance to ensure that you remain protected from all environmental hazards at the workplace. After all, it would be best to prioritize your health above everything.
Moreover, taking health and safety regulations seriously will allow you to avoid deadly occupational illnesses and remain accident-free for the foreseeable future. In the end, prevention is the key to workplace safety!