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Work Related Injuries – High Risk Jobs for Asphyxiation and Suffocation


Although these conditions are not as common as other work-related injuries, they still pose a real threat to workers in particular industries.

Asphyxiation, suffocation, and strangulation have similar meanings. Asphyxiation refers to a medical condition in which the oxygen supply to the body becomes severely deficient due to the patient’s inability to breathe normally. Strangulation is a condition in which body circulation to a particular of the body is cut off due to constriction. When respiration stops because of strangulation or asphyxiation, the condition is referred to as suffocation.

Understanding the Terms of These Types of Work Injuries

In the context of work-related injuries, asphyxiation is used in reference to an incident or accident that causes the oxygen supply to be cut off. On the other hand, strangulation is used to refer to an act of violence that is perpetrated by one person upon another. Suffocation can refer to either an incident or an accident or can be used to refer to an act of violence in the workplace.

For asphyxiation, suffocation or strangulation to qualify for workers compensation benefits, it is necessary that the injury occurred in the course and scope of the person’s employment. For example, if a worker gets confined to a closed space such as in reactors, tanks, tubes or vats, he/she faces the danger of asphyxiation. A worker may face the risk of strangulation from an act of violence by a criminal or an angry, disgruntled colleague. A worker faces the risk of suffocation when they work in places such as grain bins.

In the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these types of injuries are listed under traumatic injuries and disorders. It is a heading for workplace incidents that are emotionally and psychologically traumatic to both the worker who was injured and the co-workers.

Types of Jobs that Have a High Risk for Asphyxiation and Suffocation

Some types of jobs carry a high risk of asphyxiation and suffocation. Workers in the following industries are at a higher risk of these types of injuries:

  • Agriculture and farming
  • Mining
  • Firefighting
  • Construction
  • Refinery
  • Transportation
  • Plant

Injuries Caused by Asphyxiation and Suffocation

These types of injuries are serious in nature and often lead to the death of the worker. However, when a worker survives asphyxiation or suffocation, he/she may sustain various types of injuries including:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Incoordination
  • Confusion
  • Stupor
  • Acute dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Confusion
  • Convulsion
  • Fainting, loss of consciousness
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat
  • Tachycardia and Bradycardia

Worker Compensation Benefits for Asphyxiation and Suffocation

Anyone who suffers asphyxiation or suffocation due to an incident or accident at the workplace is entitled to worker compensation benefits as long as the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment. The employee may be entitled to medical and disability benefits, and if the injury leads to the death of the worker, his/her dependents may receive death benefits under the workers’ compensation system. Get in touch with a St. Louis worker compensation attorney to know about your rights.

Work Related Injuries

Updated: March 27, 2024
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