Did A Toxic Environment Cause Your Occupational Illness?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Tue Jan 2018
- Workers Compensation,
No doubt you’ve wondered about the toxic environment you work in. After all, the fumes are often noxious. Air circulation is limited because of temperature effects on your company’s machines. For some reason, excessive hot or cold lessens their efficiency. Then, the bad news comes. Your cancer diagnosis concerns you. Are you suffering from an occupational illness?
Without question, investigation as far as causability makes sense. Although not all cancers are related to occupational exposure, yours might be. Your suspicions might be a gut reaction or your observation of other employees. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in determining if you are suffering from an occupational illness and due compensation.
What does this mean exactly? First, there must be proof that your cancer diagnosis is work-related. If that’s the case, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The basics include payment for medical treatment, as well as temporary disability allowances. Additionally, you might discover that you are due at least partial permanent disability checks. Ultimately, your death could mean your dependents could make a claim.
In any case, cancer is not the only occupational illness. However, for purposes of this article, the attention is on how some deleterious substances can create a toxic environment leading up to a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer as an Occupational Illness
Just over a year ago, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued one of many policies on safety measures regarding occupational exposure. In short, there is “no acceptable level for exposure to carcinogens.” Employers need to find ways that prevent their workers from getting so sick.
Cancer-producing agents rob the health and lives of entirely too many workers. Ironically, it is often low wage earners that suffer the most occupational exposure. Without targeting individual companies, these are some examples of companies where employees might be exposed to carcinogens:
- Dry Cleaning Businesses: It’s one thing for a local company to take in dry-cleaning and ship it off-site. Meanwhile, some commercial laundry services are more large scale. However, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration cautions that certain chemicals are dangerous to workers operating dry-cleaning machines. For beginners, perchloroethylene (PERC) presents considerable health hazards.
- Rubber Manufacturing Companies: Some cancer diagnoses are more frequent among employees working in rubber manufacturing companies. Their work might include the production of tires for cars and trucks. Additionally, rubber bands and rubber gloves are manufactured locally.
According to the Center for Disease and Protection (CDC), “production of these items involves subjecting heterogeneous mixtures of hundreds of chemicals to heat, pressure, and catalytic action.” As a result, all types of cancers seem to surface and represent an occupational illness.
- Plastics Industry: Like rubber, employees who work in the plastics manufacturing business face occupational exposure. Once again OSHA provides valuable insight. Remarkably, deaths associated with chemical exposure in the plastics industry have notably declined. Notwithstanding, some workers ultimately suffer from cancer because of occupational exposure.
In the meantime, America’s bravest suffer a great many threats of cancer-related to their employment. A recent news article claims cancer responsible as the most significant killer of firefighters.
These are just some examples of potential risks of toxicity in the workplace. Cancer diagnoses are difficult. Any time you suspect occupational exposure is causing you problems, you should discuss your issues with an attorney who has experience in these types of cases.
Compensability for Work-Related Cancers
First, there are notable differences in all types of workers’ compensation claims. It’s one thing to pursue benefits because a machine malfunctioned once and hurt you. Work-related cancer evolves over time. In some cases, your employer or their workers’ compensation carrier may strongly deny your allegations.
However, denial does not mean a claim does not exist. Just about everybody remembers the rash of cases related to asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, asbestos claims are still relevant. Cancer hits many across several industries.
New Jersey courts are well aware that carcinogens are in the workplace. As far back as the 1970s, a roofer was awarded workers’ compensation benefits because of occupational illness. Even though the defense asserted the roofer’s smoking habit contributed to his lung cancer diagnosis, the court ruled that his work duties were also a factor. In this case, the occupational exposure involved fumes and dust of tar, pitch, asphalt and asbestos.
Sick Because of a Toxic Environment?
You might not be sure if your cancer diagnosis is related to a toxic environment in the workplace. With more than seventy years of combined experience representing injured workers, the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo can help you determine your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Give us a call to speak with us about our legal opinion.