Without a doubt, workers worldwide face a health crisis due to various workplace hazards and the occupational illnesses caused by them.
In fact, most of these employees face life-threatening illnesses and injuries such as poisoning, lung disease, skin disease, and many more due to exposure to harmful substances. Some illnesses are severe enough to cause loss of life too.
But, if employees take proper prevention measures and follow standard operating procedures, most occupational illnesses and injuries are preventable.
The International Labor Organization(ILO) states that every employee has a right to work in a safe and secure workplace environment. Most workers ignore safety measures or work for employers who don’t warn their workers and expose themselves to dangerous substances and chemicals.
This ignorance on both parts means there’s an urgent need for governments and other health and safety organizations to enforce various health and safety policies to ensure employees remain as safe as possible at their workplace.
As a worker, you should never rely on these policies alone to protect yourself from workplace illnesses and diseases and instead take preventative measures on your end to keep yourself safe and secure at the workplace.
Let’s look at a few repercussions of working around dangerous substances and ways to avoid exposure.
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Mesothelioma is terminal and has a long latency period which means you won’t feel symptoms until it’s too late. If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos or related materials, get a diagnosis asap.
God forbid if you’re positive, consult with an oncologist to start treatment, and second, take the matter to court if your employer didn’t warn you to take precautions.
Talk to an experienced mesothelioma attorney to explore options for compensation against your negligent employer.
Furthermore, your attorney will gather evidence by interviewing coworkers and speaking with medical experts to improve your chances of winning compensation.
Remember, workplace-related asbestos exposure is the leading cause of occupational mesothelioma in the U.S. alone.
In fact, working around asbestos or asbestos-containing substances puts you at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma and other severe respiratory diseases.
Through the 1950s and 1980s, asbestos was used in various industries and commercial products. However, this occupational illness is most commonly diagnosed in pipefitters, construction workers, insulation installers, auto mechanics, HVAC installers, and much more.
Asbestosis is another severe lung-related illness typically caused by continuous exposure to asbestos at the workplace.
The symptoms usually depend on the severity of the case and the amount of time you were exposed to the asbestos-containing substance. This type of lung-related disease usually damages your lungs and scars on intestines.
Like mesothelioma, symptoms take years to show, which is after 20 to 30 years of exposure, due to which it can be terminal.
The symptoms include chest tightness, shoulder pain, finger clubbing, weight loss due to reduced appetite, shortness of breath, and much more.
In the case of asbestosis, prevention is the only solution. Moreover, if you think you’re working near asbestos-containing substances, ask your employer to give PPE(personal protection equipment) to limit exposure.
Occupational contact dermatitis
Eczema or contact dermatitis is an occupational illness if you work with or near chemical agents and toxins. Typically, symptoms of contact dermatitis include skin redness, skin dryness, blistering, cracked/flaky skin, itching, and swelling, to name a few.
While contact dermatitis isn’t life-threatening or contagious, it is very annoying and can lead to constant itching, causing further skin damage.
The CDC(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that contact dermatitis accounts for fifteen to twenty percent of all recorded cases of work-related illnesses across the United States of America. Therefore, you’re more prone to acquiring contact dermatitis from your workplace than others.
Contact dermatitis usually disappears over time, but severe cases of this occupational disease are also treatable. If you’ve contracted contract dermatitis from your workplace, consider contacting a dermatologist if it develops near your eyes or mouth.
As far as treatment is concerned, a steroid-based skin cream for the affected areas is usually enough to eliminate this annoying illness.
Occupational lead exposure
Prolonged exposure to lead and lead-containing substances can lead to acute lead poisoning. In fact, occupational lead exposure has been around for hundreds of years, with cases leading back to the 1800s.
It is a work-related hazard that can cause irreversible damages to your health, like memory loss, vomiting, amnesia, nervous system problems, hearing loss, and even death in severe cases.
Usually, jewelers, lead miners, demolition workers, foundry workers, pipefitters, and battery makers are at a higher risk of being exposed to lead than others.
The absence of symptoms during the early stages makes lead poisoning challenging to diagnose. Those infected start vomiting blood, which upsets and weakens the body’s immune system.
To avoid lead poisoning, consider washing your hands with soap and sanitizer before and after handling lead-containing substances. What’s more, consider wearing PPE to limit exposure down to a minimum.
If you have a history of handling lead at the workplace, get in touch with a doctor to start blood tests for identifying lead poisoning.
Treatment for lead poisoning typically includes chelation therapy, where your doctor asks you to take medication orally. This medicine will bind with the lead in your blood and leave your body through your urine.
Work-related illnesses and diseases can sometimes leave disabling effects on your body and cause death in severe cases.
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to any illness, and it’s the same for occupational diseases as well. Furthermore, if you’re diagnosed with any work-related illness or disease, exercise your right to consult a lawyer and hold the employer accountable for ignoring safety protocols.