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Common workplace illnesses and how to prevent them

On Behalf of | May 27, 2024 | workers' compensation |

Workers’ compensation programs in Maryland help people who are injured in workplace accidents to make ends meet, and they also provide benefits to workers who are diagnosed with debilitating job-related illnesses. Workers can become sick after being exposed to toxic substances like chemicals or biological agents, or they can develop painful musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome because their work involves repetitive motions or heavy lifting.

Exposure to toxic substances

Exposure to toxic substances in the workplace can cause respiratory illnesses, skin diseases and cancer. Sometimes, doctors only become aware that a substance is dangerous when workers start to get sick. The link between mesothelioma and asbestos was discovered when construction workers developed the condition, and bronchiolitis obliterans is often called “popcorn lung” because it was first diagnosed in workers at a microwave popcorn factory.

Musculoskeletal disorders

Even workers with relatively sedentary occupations can develop musculoskeletal disorders if performing their tasks involves making repetitive motions. Lifting or moving heavy objects and remaining in awkward positions for prolonged periods can also cause work-related medical conditions. The people who are diagnosed with musculoskeletal disorders sometimes encounter problems when they apply for workers’ compensation benefits because establishing that their conditions were caused by their jobs and not other activities can be difficult.

Preventing work-related illnesses

Many work-related medical conditions are preventable. When a substance is identified as potentially dangerous, employers should provide workers who are exposed to it with protective clothing or respiratory equipment. Ear protection can prevent hearing loss, and respirators can reduce mesothelioma risks. Safety training is also important. Office and warehouse workers may be less likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders if they know about the dangers and are trained to perform their tasks in a manner that does not place undue stress on their muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.

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