Those of us in good health don’t typically think about our lungs on a daily basis. But for those who suffer from work-related lung diseases, the simple act of taking a breath can be painful and difficult. Millions of workers are exposed to chemical hazards and toxic substances in the workplace that put them at risk for respiratory work injuries like asthma, bronchitis, obstructive lung disease, and cancer.
The road to recovery following a respiratory work injury can be a long and difficult one. In many cases, workers are left with permanent impairment to the respiratory system that can make it challenging to work and live a normal life. Fortunately, employees who suffer from work-related lung diseases are eligible to file for workers’ compensation to collect medical and wage loss benefits related to their conditions.
Causes of work-related lung diseases and respiratory work injuries
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), roughly 32 million workers are exposed to chemical hazards and toxic substances in the workplace. There are 650,000 existing chemical products and hundreds of new ones are introduced every year. Most work-related lung diseases are caused by long-term, repeated exposure to hazardous chemicals. However, a severe one-time exposure can also damage the respiratory system.
It was once thought that coal miners were the only workers at risk for work-related lung diseases. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone who works in an environment that contains hazardous chemicals, dust, and fibers can develop a respiratory work injury. Employees who work in factories, mining, agriculture, and construction are at a particularly high risk for work-related lung diseases.
Inhaling asbestos, silica, coal dust, fungus spores, and certain gases, fumes, and vapors can lead to a work-related lung disease or make an existing condition worse. The symptoms of work-related lung disease include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, chest tightness, and abnormal breathing. These signs often resemble other health conditions, so it’s important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Unlike a traumatic workplace accident that results in a broken bone or dislocated shoulder, many workers who breathe in toxic substances are unaware of their injuries until much later. This can make it difficult to build a compelling workers’ compensation case on your own. A work injury attorney in San Diego can help you see the best doctors, gather expert witnesses, and ensure you get the benefits you’re entitled to.
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As an employee, you have a right to working conditions that don’t pose a serious risk of harm. Employers have a responsibility to reduce employee exposure to toxic chemicals whenever possible. When it isn’t feasible to limit exposure, employers should provide respiratory protection to workers to reduce the risk for work-related lung diseases and other chronic respiratory conditions. Unfortunately, despite rigid safety regulations, respiratory work injuries occur all too often.
If you have suffered a respiratory work injury due to chemical exposure at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that will pay for your medical expenses and replace a portion of your lost income while you’re off your feet. If a respiratory work injury is fatal, death benefits will pay for funeral expenses and provide financial support to surviving family members.
If you have suffered a respiratory work injury, contact us. At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, our work injury attorneys in San Diego have decades of experience protecting the rights of injured workers and helping them collect the maximum benefits they deserve. Call (619) 528-9800 to schedule your free consultation today.