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Is occupational asthma covered by workers' compensation benefits?

Occupational asthma is a problem in many workplaces in Pennsylvania, and it is a significant problem because it affects both employees and employers who see the effects on the bottom lines of their companies. Asthma can affect workers in a variety of industries because exposure to a wide range of products and substances can cause it -- or exacerbate an existing condition. Affected workers can develop chest tightness, wheezing, coughing and breath shortness upon exposure to harmful products hours, days or even months after exposure. Fortunately, this disease is covered by the workers' compensation insurance system.

If occupational asthma is not diagnosed, treated and managed promptly, it could become so severe that victims may be unable to work. Some may have to change their occupations to avoid exposure to the irritants or allergens that cause their asthma. Over 250 substances have been identified as work-related asthma hazards, including manufacturing chemicals in paints, wood dust, cleaning agents, flour, grain, mold, latex gloves, insects, plants and animals.

Prevention methods include eliminating or reducing irritants and allergens in work environments, and using surveillance measures for early detection -- even before the appearance of symptoms. Using less harmful substances can prevent exposure. Complying with relevant safety regulations as prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration might prevent workers from exposure that can cause or exacerbate occupational asthma.

People living with occupational asthma in Pennsylvania might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Medical expenses and lost income are typically covered. However, employees whose conditions are severe enough to cause disability might be awarded additional benefits. Pursuing such compensation can be challenging without the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

Source: nhlbi.nih.gov, "Work-related asthma is a bigger problem than you may think.", Accessed on May 30, 2018

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