Work Related Illness Attorney in New Jersey
How are Illnesses Caused by On the Job Hazards?
Many think of the hazards you can see at the workplace, like slippery surfaces, malfunctioning equipment, and dangerous machinery, but there are many other ways an employee can be harmed during the course of a job. Injury-causing accidents account for a large portion of worker trauma every year, but illnesses caused by workplace hazards affect many employees every year.
Unfortunately, many of these dangers are not known until someone has been harmed. Every worker should know what illnesses may result from their work. This way, they can identify the losses that have resulted from a job so that they can receive workers' compensation in New Jersey.
Common Health Complications
Any of these toxic hazards can affect the health of a worker. Each has different effects, with some taking their toll upon contact while others need to build up in the body through prolonged exposure. Depending on the hazard, exposure could be caused by skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion.
Substances like pesticides, carbon monoxide, and asbestos are inhaled, damaging the lungs and poisoning the body. Additionally, asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer affecting the lungs. Heavy metals like lead and mercury can build up in the body, often through ingestion, creating disorders that affect the nervous system and organ function. The ammonia in cleaning fluids and the chemicals in many pesticides can seriously burn the skin upon contact, often resulting from spills or negligent actions.
Chemicals and Toxins
Every job has its own type of hazards, as the circumstances of the work being done can vary widely. However, everything from offices to construction sites can have dangers that cause illnesses.
- Chemical Cleaners - Present in almost every workplace to deal with spills and accidents, often contains ammonia
- Asbestos - Previously used to make buildings fire retardant, but discontinued due to serious illness risks
- Lead - Present in many buildings, batteries, and metal containers
- Carbon Monoxide - Discharged from fuel burning machines like engines and heavy machinery
- Hazardous Drug Exposure - If working in the medical field, many types of medication could be present, becoming dangerous if not contained or compromised in an accident
- Mercury - Used mostly in thermometers, barometers, certain switches, and other gauges
- Insecticides, Pesticides, and Herbicides - Used to get rid of pests that are damaging crops or compromising the structure of a building
Identifying Occupational Illnesses
As stated by OSHA, an illness is considered work-related if exposure or an event in the work environment either caused or contributed to the condition or aggravated a preexisting illness or injury. There is a lengthy list of occupational diseases associated with exposure to the following toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as environmental factors:
- Chemical agents, such as beryllium, lead, hexane, pesticides, and chlorine
- Physical agents, including noise that causes hearing loss; vibrations that cause disorders of the muscles, tendons, and joints; and other agents that can cause disease, such as ultraviolet light, ionizing radiation, and exposure to extreme temperatures
- Biological agents and infectious or parasitic diseases, such as hepatitis, HIV, tetanus, tuberculosis, and anthrax
- Agents that cause respiratory diseases
- Agents that cause skin diseases
- Substances known to cause occupational cancer, such as asbestos, benzene, and arsenic
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Occupational illnesses include musculoskeletal disorders caused by:
- Repetitive movements, forceful exertions, and extreme postures of the wrist
- Prolonged pressure of the elbow region
- Prolonged stay in a kneeling position
- Extended periods of kneeling, squatting or bending
- Repetitive, forceful work
OSHA regulations are in place for a reason - to help protect workers from occupational injuries and illnesses. When employers are in violation of OSHA safety regulations and workers become seriously ill as a result, state workers’ compensation law may not provide immunity from liability for negligent employers. When employer negligence results in worker fatalities, families of the deceased may be entitled to recover damages in wrongful death claims.
Temporary Permanent Disability Benefits for Occupational Illnesses
If factors in your work environment have made you too ill to work, you are entitled to the same benefits you would receive if you had been seriously injured in a work-related accident. Those benefits include medical treatment and compensation for your lost wages.
If you must take time off from work for more than 7 days to recover from your illness, workers’ compensation should provide temporary disability payments at the rate of approximately 70% of the wages you were earning when the illness occurred. These payments should continue until your doctor says you are well enough to return to work.
If exposure to a toxic substance, repetitive motions, or some other work-related factor has caused you permanent impairment, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. When you reach maximum medical improvement (as determined by your treating physician), you will be given a disability rating by your doctor to indicate your level of impairment. The amount of your disability payments will depend on your disability rating. In the state of New Jersey, disability ratings are based on a schedule when it involves injury to the eyes, ears, hands, arms, feet, or legs.
Time Limit for Work-Related Illness Claims
There is a two year statute of limitations (time limit imposed by law) for workers' compensation cases in New Jersey. A formal claim petition must be filed within two years of the date of injury or the last payment of compensation, whichever is later. (Medical treatment the employer authorized is considered compensation.) In cases of occupational illness, however, the claim petition must be filed within two years of the date the employee first became aware of the illness and its relation to his or her employment duties.
Proving Your Losses, Finding Compensation in NJ
Helping workers recover from their losses and find the compensation that they need is a priority for the legal team at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. With the assistance of one of our NJ on the job injury lawyers, you can find the assistance you need to cope with your losses and prevent financial burdens that can harm you and your dependents. To learn more about your rights as an employee, contact us at (609) 240-0040 for a no-cost consultation.
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