Articles Posted in work illness

Various types of illnesses and health conditions may be covered under workers’ compensation law. It will depend on whether the worker can show the condition was either an occupational disease or somehow work-related.heartattack

We tend to think of occupational diseases as being those such as mesothelioma (caused by exposure to asbestos) or silicosis (caused by exposure to silica dust) or other similar conditions. However, there is a growing area of case law that supports workers’ compensation claims for heart attacks and other heart-related conditions.In order for such an ailment to be compensable, the worker needs to show that, regardless of his or her physical condition prior to taking on the work, the illness arose in the course of and was related to his or her employment.

In some cases, obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for a heart attack might require the worker to show abnormal or extremely stressful working conditions. In situations where the causal connection isn’t apparent or obvious, the worker is probably going to need to establish a connection via unequivocal medical testimony by a qualified medical expert. Just because a worker dies of a heart attack at work doesn’t mean it’s work-related. But similarly, just because a heart attack occurs at home doesn’t mean it isn’t work-related. There are many factors that must be taken into account.  Continue reading

A group of bipartisan legislators in the South Carolina senate have introduced a bill that would allow some emergency responders to receive workers’ compensation benefits for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.policeline

The condition is a psychiatric disorder that is often associated with military combat, and it typically occurs following experiencing or witnessing life-threatening events. It’s marked by biological changes in the brain, as well as psychological symptoms that can impair a person’s ability to function.

S. 429 introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly would allow first responders to receive compensation for mental injury or mental illness medically diagnosed as PTSD, assuming it arises from that worker’s direct involvement in a traumatic experience or situation at work. The bill specifically says benefits could be granted without regard for whether the experience or situation was “extraordinary or unusual” in comparison to what is deemed the “normal working conditions” of a first responder. Continue reading

When people think of on-the-job injuries, they often think of a single accident or incident, but carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and other repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are, in reality, often a work-related condition for which a patient may be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Also, when people think of carpal tunnel syndrome, they often associate it with sedentary jobs that involve sitting in front of a computer for hours a day.

But chicken-4-1392637-m.jpgaccording to a recent article from Safety and Health Magazine, poultry workers are at a particularly high risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome while on the job. The article focuses on a recent National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study, which found more than 50 percent of workers at a poultry plant in Maryland suffered from at least one musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) affecting a hand or wrist. NIOSH performed this study at the request of plant’s employer. One of the main types of musculoskeletal disorder affecting hands and wrists is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), along with other types of repetitive stress injuries.

As the poultry plant employs people whose job responsibilities vary greatly depending upon position, NIOSH looked at each particular job. The study found nearly 60 percent of positions surveyed required workers to perform more hand repetitions and with greater force than considered safe by NIOSH and OSHA guidelines. This significantly increases the risk a worker will develop a musculoskeletal disorder, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Working from home is part of a growing trend that saves workers the commute and saves companies money. treadmill1.jpg

According to the American Community Survey, telecommuting has risen nearly 80 percent between 2005 and 2012, meaning some 2.6 percent of Americans are now working from home. That figure includes full-time employees, as well as those who only partially log hours from their own address.

While an increasingly mobile workforce has had a number of positives, it does have the potential to muddy the waters as far as workers’ compensation is concerned. That’s because it’s much easier to prove an injury was work-related when it happens on the job site. But when injuries occur at someone’s home – albeit, when they are working – it may be tougher to make a case.
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In the case of Moreau v. Transp. Ins. Co., the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for a Montana mining company had agreed to accept liability for medical expenses of a former worker who died of asbestos-related lung cancer.
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However, the company had established and funded a medical plan to pay for the medical expenses of workers injured by exposure to asbestos, and both the plan and employer declined to accept the insurer reimbursement for this worker. The worker’s widow, as personal representative of his estate, asserted the reimbursement should be paid either to his estate or to a charity chosen by the estate.

But the insurer wouldn’t pay the money for this purpose, so the estate filed an action with the state Workers’ Compensation Court. Initially, the petition was denied on grounds it lacked jurisdiction because the estate lacked standing. However, the Montana Supreme Court disagreed, reversing and remanding.
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Workers who are exposed to asbestos while on the job in North Carolina should explore the possibility of workers’ compensation benefits – even when they don’t learn of the related disease until many years later, as is often the case.
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Usually, workers’ compensation benefits are something awarded soon after the injury-causing incident. However, exposure to asbestos causes diseases that are latent, and often asymptomatic until years later.

It’s worthwhile to explore the possibility of a third-party lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos for such injuries, though it’s true those are time-consuming and the burden of proof much higher. In workers’ compensation cases, plaintiffs needn’t show the employer was negligent in exposing workers to the hazardous material, only that such exposure occurred in the course of employment and proximately caused the illness.
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With two nurses from Dallas, another doctor from New York, and now with another nurse being quarantined after providing services to Ebola patients in West Africa, working conditions for health care workers are under scrutiny. The life-threatening threat has spiked concern among residents, politicians, and members of the health care working community–both in training and establishing protocol and how workers should be treated to prevent future spread.

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After the death of a Liberian who was infected with Ebola, a nurse responsible for treating him became the first person to contract Ebola in the United States. Local, state, and federal officials scrambled to determine how she had contracted the disease, despite wearing protective gear. Officials were also concerned about how to prevent future cases, and to minimize the risk of treating patients.
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The summer months are here. While we often associate this time of year with family cookouts and Little League games, workers’ compensation attorneys in Winston-Salem know that summer heat means heat-related illness.

According to the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration Hot Sun Day(OSHA),thousands of employees suffer from heat-related illness each and every year. Many of these workers die from heat exposure. Under the laws governing worker’s compensation cases, it is an employer’s responsibility to keep workers safe.

While it should come as no surprise that performing labor-intensive tasks in hot temperatures can cause your core body temperature to rise, many employers tend to overlook the added dangers to temporary workers. During the summer, many of people will seek temporary employment. These temporary or seasonal jobs often involve working outside in the hot sun for many hours a week with little time off. Spending all day in the heat is often vastly different from the employee’s daily life during the other months of the year.
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North Carolina workplace injuries and illnesses result in a substantial number of days missed from work, according to a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. casco.jpg

The agency reports that the rate of non-fatal occupational illnesses and injuries requiring days away from work was 112 cases for every 10,000 full-time workers. That was last year, representing only a slight dip from the rate of 117 cases per 10,000 full-time workers that was reported in 2011.

Collectively among workers employed by the private industry, state and local governments, the total number of days away from work dropped by an incremental 2 percent during that same time frame, down to roughly 1.2 million days.
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