When you think of people who were hurt on the job, you probably think of people who have suffered from a broken bone or a traumatic head injury. What you might not consider, however, are diseases that can come about as a result of harmful exposure to toxins, chemicals, and infectious or contaminated blood and fluids, among others.
It can be easy to brush off a cough or a rash as just part of the job, especially when you think that you could have been a lot worse off. However, that doesn’t mean that you should have to put up with even a minor health concern. Here are 5 common illnesses that may develop as a result of poor workplace conditions.
1. Skin Exposure
Your skin is the biggest organ on your body. If you’re in an industry where you touch a lot of chemicals (and are improperly protected)—whether through immersion, being splashed, or being around aerosolized agents—you’re getting them on your skin. Chemical agents can either act directly on your skin to cause a reaction right away, or might only cause a reaction through repeated exposure.
Skin irritations can also arise from extreme temperatures, UV radiation, any kind of physical trauma like friction or lacerations, or certain biological materials. Skin exposure in all of its forms can cause irritation and allergic reactions, but can also lead to other skin diseases, infections, and even certain kinds of cancer.
2. Blood-Borne Diseases
Health care workers, emergency responders, and public safety personnel (among other workers) can become exposed to blood and bodily fluids. Whether the contact is directly with the fluids or the result of damage to the skin or an accidental needle prick, workers are at risk for a myriad of diseases. Contact with blood, for example, could lead to contracting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C.
3. Occupational Asthma and Allergies
Any time you inhale small particles, you irritate your lungs. If you do so repeatedly over many years, it can lead to or aggravate asthma and allergies, potentially leading to anaphylaxis. Working with dangerous chemicals and a lot of natural powders—animal proteins, flour, and natural latex, for instance—can cause damage your lungs.
This is a group of lung diseases that are caused by the inhalation of certain types of dust particles. Unlike asthma and allergies, pneumoconiosis has no environmental or preexisting factors; it has only been linked to specific workplaces. Pneumoconiosis is grouped into types based on what caused the lung irritation, such as asbestos, silica, and coal dust. The disease may damage the lungs, which can lead to disability and potentially death.
Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer caused by long-term, on-the-job exposure to asbestos. It forms on the lining of the lungs, but can sometimes be found in the abdomen or heart. Anyone who has worked in industrial settings, shipyards, auto repair shops, and in older buildings like homes or schools could be at risk. Asbestos hasn’t been used in construction projects in many years, but this doesn’t mean that you’re not at risk—you can develop mesothelioma decades after the initial exposure.
Contact an Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney
Call them “occupational hazards” if you want, but the fact of the matter is that you shouldn’t be concerned about workplace illnesses. You should feel and be safe at your workplace. If you have developed or suspect your illness is work-related, don’t stand by. Fill out an online form or call the office of Wilson Kehoe Winingham at 317-920-6400 or 800.525.8028 to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.