Exposure to certain chemicals, fumes, pollutants, radiation, and allergens can make workers susceptible to occupational illnesses.
Workers who suffer from occupational illnesses may seek benefits under the Missouri workers’ compensation system to receive compensation for medical expenses and loss of wages.
Among the many occupational illnesses that an industrial worker can contract is occupational asthma. Although occupational asthma is not a very common illness, poor air quality and other conditions can subject employees to an unhealthy work environment. People who suffer from occupational asthma experience the symptoms while they are in the workplace and are exposed to the allergen that has led to the condition. Workers who suffer from occupational asthma may experience one or all of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath.
- Feeling of tightness in the chest.
Causes of Occupational Asthma
A worker may be at risk of developing asthma without exposure to occupational elements if he or she has a personal or family history of allergies or asthma. When the worker reaches the workplace, exposure to allergens may cause the condition to worsen. Missouri workers’ compensation lawyers have come across several cases of occupational asthma and most of them are caused by one of the following agents:
- Organic dusts such as grains, cereals, coffee, flour, and tea dust.
- Metals such as chromium, platinum, soldering fumes, and nickel sulphate.
- Animal substances such as dander, hair, mites, protein or bacterial dusts, and small insects.
- Textile related materials such as flax, hemp dust, and cotton.
Can the Affects of Occupational Asthma Be Minimized?
It takes effort on the part of an employer to prevent occupational asthma or to minimize its effects. The primary cause of occupational asthma is the workplace air. Federal and state laws regulate the internal air quality, and improvements in the quality of air can considerably affect the pollutant levels at the workplace. Air ducts and airways in the workplace should be clean and well maintained to allow a free flow of air. Also, the employer can conduct chemical tests to detect pollutants and other health hazards lurking in the air.
Can an Employer Be Held Responsible For Occupational Asthma?
If a worker’s asthma is the result of a hazardous work environment, then he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In addition to regulations put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor, there are several other rules that may apply to the workplace environment. An employer should abide by the OSHA standards by monitoring the following:
- Reports and records of occupational asthma.
- Requirements of respiratory protection program.
- Distribution, use, and maintenance of personal protective gear.
- Chemicals such as formaldehyde that may cause asthma.
If you have developed occupational asthma and your employer or the insurance company is denying you workers’ compensation benefits, call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300.