When it comes to occupational illnesses in California that cost people some or all of their ability to make money, workers’ compensation benefits may be available. If workplace conditions have made you sick, you may be entitled to benefits to help pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs.
California workers’ compensation benefits are intended to help people with occupational illnesses avoid financial ruin due to their health and inability to work like they used to.
The legal team at the Kenton Koszdin Law Office is dedicated to helping workers with occupational illnesses pursue the compensation they deserve. Let us guide you through the process, take care of all the paperwork and deadlines, and fight through an appeal if your claim has been denied. Call or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Occupational Illnesses
There is a surprising array of occupational illnesses. For instance:
- Workers who make popcorn flavoring are at risk of developing bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung.” That’s only one serious risk to workers in the flavoring industry, which says its workers are exposed to over 1,000 ingredients that are potentially harmful.
- Aerospace workers are exposed to the light metal beryllium, which can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. The risk is lung cancer and berylliosis, a potentially fatal lung disease.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics applies the term “occupational illness” to disorders caused by workplace conditions and on-the-job exposure. Some more common examples include:
- Skin diseases or disorders that stem from exposure to chemicals, plants, or other substances. Examples:
- Contact dermatitis, eczema, or rash caused by primary irritants and sensitizers or poisonous plants
- Oil acne
- Friction blisters,
- Chrome ulcers
- Inflammation of the skin
- Respiratory conditions from inhaling hazardous biological agents, chemicals, dust, gases, vapors, or fumes. Examples:
- Rhinitis or acute congestion
- Farmer’s lung
- Beryllium disease
- Occupational asthma
- Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Toxic inhalation injuries such as metal fume fever and chronic obstructive bronchitis
- Poisonings from inhaling, ingesting, or other exposure to:
- Other metals
- Carbon monoxide
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Other gases
- Carbon tetrachloride
- Other organic solvents
- Insecticide sprays such as parathion or lead arsenate
- Other chemicals such as formaldehyde
- Hearing loss resulting from exposure to noise.
- All other occupational illnesses.Examples include:
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat stress
- Other effects of environmental heat
- Other effects of exposure to low temperatures
- Decompression sickness
- Effects of ionizing radiation (isotopes, X-rays, radium)
- Effects of nonionizing radiation (welding flash, ultraviolet rays, lasers)
- Bloodborne pathogenic conditions such as AIDS, HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- Malignant or benign tumors
Employer Responsibility to Protect You From Occupational Illnesses
According to the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973, employers have a duty to:
- Establish, implement, maintain an injury-illness prevention program.
- Monitor workplace to identify and correct hazards.
- Ensure that workers have safe tools and equipment.
- Provide personal protective equipment.
- Use color codes, posters, labels, or signs to clearly mark/identify hazards.
- Have, update, and communicate operating procedures.
- Provide medical exams and training as required by state and federal law.
- Immediately report work-related deaths or serious injuries, as defined by law.
- If you have more than 10 employees, keep a record of all work-related injuries and illnesses, following requirements dictated by law.
- Prominently post a California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (also known as Cal/OSHA) poster informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
- If required to keep an injury log, give current and former workers and their representatives access to the log.
- Employee medical records and exposure records must be accessible to employees or their authorized representatives.
- Do not take punitive measures against workers who are injured.
- Post Cal/OSHA citation(s) in proximity to work area involved until problem is corrected or for three working days, whichever is longer.
- Correct violations by the Cal/OSHA citation deadline and provide required documentation.
Occupations Most at Risk for Illnesses
Business Insider used U.S. Department of Labor data to measure risks in 974 occupations.
The six metrics it used were exposure to contaminants, exposure to disease and infection, exposure to hazardous conditions, exposure to radiation, risk of minor injuries, and time spent sitting, with the sixth metric used because of the known risks of too much time spent sitting.
The results were published for the 25 most risky jobs, with the occupations numbered as ranked. Here are the Business Insider’s top 10, with risk factors included:
- Dentists, dental surgeons, dental assistants, based on time spent sitting and exposure to contaminants, disease, infection
- Flight attendants, based on exposure to contaminants, disease, and infection and exposure to minor injuries
- Anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and anesthesiologist assistants, based on exposure to disease, infection, contaminants, and radiation.
- Veterinarians and veterinary assistants and technicians, based on exposure to disease, infection, contaminants, and minor injuries
- Podiatrists, based on exposure to disease, infections, radiation, and contaminants
- Immigration and customs inspectors, based on exposure to contaminants, disease, infections, and radiation
- Histotechnologists and histologic technicians (histology is the science of cell structures and cell formation), based on exposure to hazardous conditions, contaminants, disease, and infections
- Water and wastewater treatment plant operators, based on their exposure to contaminants, hazardous conditions, and minor injuries
- Stationary engine and boiler engineers and operators, based on their exposure to contaminants, hazardous conditions, and minor injuries
- Surgical and medical assistants, technologists, and technicians, based on their exposure to diseases and infections, contaminants, hazardous conditions.
Many people probably don’t realize that health care workers top most lists of at-risk employees. However, people in virtually any line of work could develop an occupational illness. If you develop an occupational illness that costs you wages and inflicts suffering, it’s unlikely you will care where you appear on any list.
What you will want, though, is information that can help you secure the maximum compensation for your occupational illness. To find out more about your legal rights and best options, talk to the Kenton Koszdin Law Office now.
Contact us for a free assessment of your workers’ compensation or Social Security disability case. If you can’t get out of the house, we’ll come to you for a free in-home consultation.