Occupational disorders and diseases are usually caused by working in a dangerous or harmful work environment.
In fact, as stated by the Occupational Health and Safety act of 1970, work-related diseases and disorders are categorized as illnesses caused by exposure to dangerous substances and biological agents, hindering workers’ ability to perform their job well and decreasing their quality of life.
That said, symptoms of occupational diseases and disorders aren’t apparent in the initial stages but become evident as the condition gets severe.
It is sad to know that work-related illnesses have accounted for more than two million deaths globally. So, it would be wise to learn as much as possible about various occupational disorders and diseases plaguing workers and explore treatment options.
To aid you with the learning process, the ILO (International Labor Organization), NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health), and the EU-OSHA have listed the most common work-related disorders and diseases that workers should know about.
Occupational Lung Diseases.
The EU-OSHA states that work-related lung diseases, lung cancer, account for more than 25% of work-related deaths globally. Employees contract occupational lung disease when they handle or work near carcinogenic substances and chemicals at the workplace.
That said, different materials will lead to varying types of lung-related illnesses, and most of these substances are present inside a few particular industries.
That said, mesothelioma is the most common occupational lung disease that workers are diagnosed with.
But God forbid if you contract mesothelioma, it’s terminal; the first step is to talk to an oncologist to determine the cancer stage for a targeted approach.
After a biopsy and blood test, the oncologist can suggest the right mesothelioma treatment option for you.
In addition, if you feel you were exposed to this toxic substance without any warnings, hire an attorney to file a negligence lawsuit against your employer for negligence.
Occupational skin diseases.
Occupational skin diseases amount to around 50% of all work-related disorders and lead to about 25% of lost wages and workdays. However, these illnesses often go unreported due to their lack of association with workplace hazards that might have caused them.
Typically, occupational skin diseases and disorders affect employees working in various work settings, regardless of their age.
A few industries are more prone to skin-related diseases than others, including construction, metal plating, engine service, manufacturing, food production, forestry, and machine tool operation.
That said, a common skin disease that accounts for the most reported cases of occupational disease is contact dermatitis. Also referred to as eczema, dermatitis account for more than 90% of all cases of work-related skin diseases in America alone.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis usually include; skin redness, skin rashes, itching, pain, flaky or dry skin, etc. That said, occupational eczema is easily treatable with the proper medication and care.
However, you will require damp/cold compressions, steroid-based skin creams, and antihistamines if your dermatitis doesn’t go away on its own.
Furthermore, consider wearing protective equipment, avoiding contact with known irritants, and applying suntan lotion to reduce your likelihood of contracting dermatitis from your workplace.
Occupational asthma is typically caused by inhaling irritants, dust, fumes, vapors, and gases at the workplace. That said, around 10 to 25% of all adults who have asthma have contracted this disease from their workplace.
What’s more, occupational asthma is reversible, meaning your symptoms will disappear when you eliminate the irritant causing the issue. However, damage can be permanent if exposed for a prolonged period.
Typical symptoms of occupational asthma include but aren’t limited to chest tightness, eye irritation, nasal congestions, runny nose, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Prevention is the best approach to avoid contracting occupational asthma. So, if symptoms appear, you might have to change your occupation to prevent exposure to the gases, fumes, dust particles, or irritants.
Moreover, with the following steps, you can limit the risk of occupational asthma.
- Wearing gas masks when handling known irritants
- Eliminating the irritants triggering your asthma
- Learning more about family or personal medical history of asthma
- Going for regular checkups to determine lung damage caused by asthma
There is no doubt that the recent COVID-19 pandemic affected many industries and sectors worldwide. It is a virus with a high risk of infection if you don’t take the necessary preventions and precautions.
Even though social distancing and remote working have reduced the chances of contracting COVID-19, as businesses and workplaces continue to open up, more and more workers are prone to acquiring this virus.
However, health and safety agencies such as OSHA and governments worldwide encourage workers to follow safety guidelines laid out by their employers.
Furthermore, OSHA also states that understanding the risk factors of COVID-19, washing hands with soap for fifteen seconds, using a hand sanitizer after touching high-contact surfaces, and wearing facial masks are effective ways of prevention.
In the end, employees who work with infected people, such as healthcare workers, must remain more cautious than others to avoid contracting this deadly disease.
Occupational loss of hearing.
Employees constantly working in high-noise environments and near noisy machinery and equipment are more prone to hearing loss than others. That said, wearing proper ear protection equipment such as earplugs and earmuffs will drastically reduce your risk of suffering from hearing loss.
So, the best method of avoiding hearing loss is to eliminate the noise source. Furthermore, taking regular breaks when working with or around noise equipment will give your ears the rest they require.
But if you’ve recently experienced hearing loss, consider visiting a doctor and undergoing a hearing evaluation test. If your hearing loss resulted from your employer’s negligence, you might be eligible for worker’s compensation.
Every worker has the right to work inside a safe and secure workplace. Remember to prioritize safety over everything else because if you’re only working to earn a monthly paycheck, that paycheck won’t do you any good if you’re down with a disease.
Follow the health and safety guidelines laid out by your employer to ensure that you remain illness and accident-free for the foreseeable future.