Most Minnesota workers know workers’ compensation covers them for any injuries they sustain in workplace accidents. But they may not be aware that workers’ compensation also covers occupational diseases. In many workplaces, illnesses are just as common as accidents. Exposure to certain chemicals and toxins may not lead to sickness right away. Sometimes it can take years after exposure for some occupational diseases to develop.
Employees should take some time to learn about the types of illnesses that workers’ compensation covers.
What is an occupational disease?
Not all illnesses that occur in the workplace qualify. There are two requirements a claim must meet before a worker can file for workers’ compensation benefits due to an occupational disease. First, they must have a previous condition a risk at their job aggravated. They may also claim benefits if they develop a disease during the course of their employment. The second is their disease must be disabling and interfere with their ability to work and perform their normal functions. Occupational diseases that sick workers can file claims for include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)and asthma can occur from prolonged exposure to airway irritants and agents.
- Hearing loss can develop from exposure to loud noises in noisy workplace environments.
- Occupational-related cancers can occur from exposure to different toxins in the workplace.
- Infectious diseases are common in health care environments where professionals work directly with infected individuals.
- Atopic dermatitis from exposure to chemicals and skin irritants.
Temporary conditions such as the flu, common cold and seasonal allergies do not qualify. Employees may get colds and the flu from sick co-workers. Their seasonal allergies may be the cause of outdoor environmental factors. Those ailments are so common that they can occur anywhere inside and outside of the job and often do not have a long-term impact.
The claims process for occupational disease-related workers’ compensation benefits can be very confusing and difficult to navigate. Many ailing workers find it beneficial to get legal help with their claims.