Occupational Illness: Common Industries and Illnesses
Occupational illnesses and diseases are common among many different industries in Louisiana, and they often require pricey medical treatments and time away from work. Fortunately, workers’ compensation includes occupational illnesses and diseases in addition to workplace accidents, meaning that you can receive money for medical expenses and lost wages if you develop an illness or disease while on the job.
Louisiana law defines occupational illnesses as a “disease or illness which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment in which the employee is exposed to such a disease.”
Occupational diseases typically develop after an employee suffers from prolonged exposure to toxins and other harmful substances. Additionally, occupational illnesses may occur from repetitive movements from work tasks.
In this blog, you’ll learn all about the industries in which occupational illnesses and diseases are common, common workplace illnesses, and what illnesses and diseases are NOT covered by workers’ compensation.
Common Industries for Occupational Illnesses and Diseases
Some industry workers are more likely to develop occupational illnesses and diseases than other employees. Certain industry employees face exposure to toxins, hazardous work conditions, and repetitive motions that can eventually result in illnesses.
Industries with an increased risk of illness and disease include:
- Workers who work with popcorn and flavoring
- Farmers and farmworkers
- Construction workers
- Aerospace workers
- First responders
- Flax, cotton, and hemp workers
Additionally, different industry workers may face long-term diseases or illnesses when exposed to gasoline or diesel fumes, nylon fibers, and noisy equipment.
There are also special rules for certain types of industry employees who suffer from occupational illnesses and diseases. These industries include firefighters and laboratory technicians.
Firefighters qualify for workers’ compensation for many different diseases and illnesses because they’re exposed to many harmful substances and hazards. These include certain types of cancers, such as bladder, brain, liver, skin, pancreas, colon, gastrointestinal tract, and leukemia, and heart disease. For employers or insurance companies to deny workers’ compensation to firefighters, they need to prove that the disease or illness wasn’t caused or worsened by their work. This means that even if the condition wasn’t the primary cause for a firefighter’s disease or illness, they can still receive full workers’ compensation. With most industries, the work conditions or activities need to be the direct and primary cause of an employee’s ailment.
In Louisiana, laboratory technicians can receive workers’ compensation for any illness or disability that directly or indirectly resulted from contracting a disease or being poisoned because of their work. Laboratory technicians often face exposure to drugs, chemicals, and other substances that directly or indirectly harm their long-term health.
Common Occupational Illnesses and Diseases
Many different illnesses and diseases result from hazardous work environments and conditions. Common occupational illnesses and diseases include
- Various forms of cancer
- Infection caused by mold
- Lead poisoning
- Chemical poisoning
- Industrial asthma
- Respiratory issues caused by asbestosis
In addition to these common illnesses and diseases, Louisiana also has two special types of occupational diseases covered by workers’ compensation.
Employees can recover workers’ compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome, an incredibly common injury caused by the compression of the median nerve. A few industries in which carpal tunnel syndrome is common include apparel manufacturers, food processors, administrative workers, telephone operators, and office workers. Victims of occupational carpal tunnel syndrome need to prove that their work caused their condition in order to receive workers’ compensation.
Another special occupational illness under Louisiana law is occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Louisiana courts have determined that loud work environments contribute to hearing loss, so an employee who loses their hearing due to their work can recover workers’ compensation.
Although workers’ compensation covers many different occupational illnesses and diseases, there are significant exemptions. LA RS 23.1031.1 b states that the following are not covered:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Mental illness
- Heart-related or perivascular disease (unless you’re a firefighter)
Call a Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Receiving workers’ compensation for your occupational illness or disease can often be a challenging process. Employers and insurance companies often attempt to underplay a claim or outright deny it. If you were injured or developed an illness or disease in the workplace, you need expert workers’ compensation attorneys at your side every step of the way.
To ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for medical bills and lost wages, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. The lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe have years of experience helping victims of occupational illnesses and diseases receive the money they need. For legal support you can trust, call our New Orleans office at 504-788-2994. You can also schedule a free consultation by clicking here.