When most people think of workers' compensation benefits, they think of workplace injuries. After all, there might be no question that the medical condition they have is a result of a specific incident at work.
However, many workers eventually need workers' compensation benefits not because of one specific accident but instead because they developed an occupational disease or medical condition over time. Some of those conditions may at first seem unrelated to work. Being able to recognize your condition as a common occupational illness can help you get benefits you need.
What are some of the most common occupational illnesses?
Believe it or not, researchers list chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma among the most common occupational illnesses. COPD refers to an entire collection of illnesses, such as emphysema and bronchitis.
Those who have to work in environments with poor air quality or frequent chemical exposure may be at risk of developing respiratory conditions or exacerbating existing conditions. These conditions may leave someone unable to work the same job and in need of extensive medical care.
Prolonged or ongoing exposure to loud noises in the workplace can lead to permanent hearing damage in one or both ears. While hearing loss can be the result of an accident at work, it is more commonly a condition that develops gradually over time. Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common culprit, although the CDC states that exposure to other agents like solvents, metals, heat and more can exacerbate the condition. Occupational hearing loss is unfortunately a common problem in the U.S., with more than 30 million workers facing exposure to hazardous noise levels in the workplace.
Repetitive motion or stress injuries
When workers have to perform the same job functions day after day, their work can take a toll on their bodies. Carpal tunnel syndrome, joint pain and back injuries are among some of the more commonly reported injuries caused by repetitive motions that people develop because of their work.
Workers with one of these conditions may require a leave of absence and may qualify for full medical coverage for their treatment through workers' compensation. Recognizing that your diagnosis relates to your work can help you know if you have the right to claim workers' compensation benefits.