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Watch Out for These Five Common Workplace Illnesses

Updated February 27, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

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.

Five Common Illnesses

Here are five common illnesses that may develop as a result of poor workplace conditions.

Skin Exposure

Your skin is the biggest organ on your body. If you’re in an industry where you touch a lot of chemicals—whether through immersion, being splashed, or being around aerosolized agents—you can get 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, physical trauma such as friction or lacerations, or certain biological materials. Skin exposure in all of its forms can cause irritation and allergic reactions, and it can also lead to other skin diseases, infections, and even certain kinds of cancer.

Blood-Borne Diseases

Healthcare workers, emergency responders, and public safety personnel (among other workers) can be 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.

Occupational Asthma and Allergies

When you inhale small particles, you irritate your lungs. If you do so repeatedly over many years, it can lead to aggravate asthma and allergies, potentially leading to anaphylaxis. Working with dangerous chemicals and a lot of natural powders—animal proteins, flour, or natural latex, for instance—can cause damage to your lungs.


Pneumoconiosis 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 it doesn’t mean that you’re not at risk—you can develop mesothelioma decades after the initial exposure.

Contact a Workplace Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have gotten sick as a result of a workplace illness, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Workplace Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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