When most Atlanta workers think of what types of injuries might occur through the course of their employment, they think about either hurting their shoulder or breaking a bone. A significant number of workers in the U.S., however, end up suffering not from immediate physical injuries, but slower acting and equally, if not more so, devastating occupational diseases. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that anywhere from 26,000-72,000 deaths and $14 billion in costs annually are due to occupational diseases. If you are a worker in Atlanta who has been exposed to harmful substances at your job, it is important to speak to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation if you have developed a disease.
Industries Prone to Occupational DiseaseThere are thousands of dangerous substances that a worker might be exposed to that could lead to a variety of occupational diseases. Generally it is those performing manual labor who are most likely to be exposed, but even an office worker could contract an illness if the building has a toxic mold problem. Some industries where contracting an occupational disease due to harmful substances is more common include:
- Mining Industry – Various harmful dusts released through drilling or blasting put miners at risk for many diseases such as silicosis, black lung disease, and cancer.
- Construction – Not only are construction workers at high risk for injury, they may also be exposed to many harmful substances while doing work with concrete, insulation, sanding, wood dust, and many chemical substances. Diseases range from relatively mild asthma and dermatitis to asbestosis and mesothelioma.
- Welding – Welders are primarily at risk of inhaling toxic metal fumes and developing cancer or even a Parkinson’s-like disease.
- Agricultural Industry – Farm, cotton, flax, hemp, or grain workers tend to be in danger of diseases caused by mold spores or bacteria in crops. Prolonged exposure can lead to lung disease.
- Aerospace Industry – Workers exposed to the beryllium metal used in missiles, spacecraft, satellites, and airplanes can develop lung cancer or berylliosis, a type of fatal lung disease.
- Food Industry – It is not uncommon for workers in food industry plants to be exposed to substances. Those working in microwave popcorn plants or with other flavorings can easily develop lung disease. There are over 1,000 ingredients in the flavoring industry that could be hazardous to worker health, according to the CDC.
Georgia Requirements for Workers’ Compensation for Occupational DiseasesIn order to qualify for workers’ compensation for an occupational disease in Georgia there are specific requirements that must be met. To be eligible, a worker must:
- Have contracted the disease because of and through the course of their employment while performing work duties; and
- File their workers’ compensation claim within a year of first discovering the occupational disease, but no later than seven years after the last exposure to the hazard that caused the disease.