If you suffer from an occupational illness in Pennsylvania, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Because claims for work-related diseases can be more difficult to prove than those for injuries caused by workplace accidents, it is essential to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
At Nikolaus & Hohenadel, our practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of workers who suffer work-related injuries and illnesses. We understand the many hazards workers are exposed to that can cause occupational diseases and will work tirelessly to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
Our legal team has a working knowledge of the workers’ compensation system and a proven history of achieving successful worker’s comp claims. When you become our client, you will have comfort knowing that we are on your side. Contact our office today so we can start working on your claim.
Leading Causes of an Occupational Illness in Pennsylvania
Under federal and state law, all workers have a right to a safe work environment. As such, employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees from the risk of occupational diseases. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an occupational illness is one that is caused by exposure to harmful substances associated with job-related activities.
Common causes of occupational diseases include:
- Hazardous materials – Hazardous materials, such as chemicals, expose workers at factories, manufacturing plants, laboratories, as well as those in healthcare settings to potential diseases. It is crucial for these workers to have appropriate training and protective equipment when dealing with such dangerous materials.
- Noisy environments – Construction workers, project managers, engineers, and others at construction sites are exposed to noise from drills, heavy machinery, and hammering; ongoing stress on the eardrums can cause irreversible hearing loss.
- Poorly ventilated workplaces – Those who work in confined spaces or underground are frequently exposed to dangerous fumes and dust. Without proper ventilation, these workers can develop respiratory illnesses, skin diseases, and other health problems.
In short, occupational illnesses have numerous causes and environmental factors play a major role in the development of such diseases. Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws, all workers have a right to protection from occupational illnesses and are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer a work-related disease.
Examples of an Occupational Illness in Workers’ Compensation Cases
The most common occupational illnesses workers develop on the job include:
- Skin diseases — Individuals who work in industries that are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays (e.g. construction workers, roofers, agricultural workers) are at a high risk of developing skin cancer (basal cell, squamous, melanoma). Similarly, workers who are frequently exposed to hazardous and toxic chemicals (e.g. painters, mechanics, landscapers) are at risk of developing skin diseases and infections.
- Hearing loss — Those who work in the manufacturing and construction industries are constantly exposed to noisy environments from equipment and machinery. These workers are at a higher risk of hearing loss than workers in other settings and must be provided with industrial-grade earplugs that are custom designed to fit into their ears. Hearing loss is still common even with the use of protective equipment and these claims are often difficult to prove because most individuals develop some degree of hearing loss as they age.
- Respiratory diseases — These illnesses are among the most common as well as most deadly work-related diseases, especially for those who are exposed to asbestos and other hazardous toxins. Workers in multiple industries are at risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases, such as occupational asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In sum, these occupational diseases often develop over time from repeated exposure to hazardous substances, work conditions, or work-related activities. Although workers who suffer occupational illnesses are eligible for worker’s compensation benefits, it is necessary to show that the disease was caused by their work.
These claims can be challenging because occupational diseases are not as obvious as work-related injuries caused by accidents. This is why employers and their insurance carriers often challenge workers’ compensation claims based on occupational diseases. The best way to protect your rights and your well-being is to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
How Nikolaus & Hohenadel Can Help
Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the worker’s compensation claim process, from filing your initial claim to handling your appeal if your claim is denied. You should know that you must also see a doctor chosen by your employer; however, you are also allowed to get a second opinion.
By working with your doctor, we can compile a medical record that establishes a connection between your illness and your job. Well-versed in the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation rules for occupational illnesses, we will work closely with you to help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Over our many years of practice, claims examiners have come to know us as dedicated advocates and honest brokers who only submit legitimate workers’ compensation claims. We have a proven history of achieving positive outcomes in claims involving work-related diseases and will stand by you every step of the way. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can start working on your occupational illness workers’ compensation claim.