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Workers’ compensation: The threats of occupational cancer

| Aug 5, 2019 | Workers' Compensation

Safety hazards exist in all industries, and most workers in California face risks of suffering physical injuries or contracting diseases. Workers’ compensation claims are proof that some workers in some industries face cancer risks of which they are not aware. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the American Cancer Society, and international authorities have identified occupations that pose exceptional cancer risks.

The first one mentioned was the danger posed by UV radiation, threatening workers who spend extended periods in the sun, with particular mention of pilots and lifeguards. Hairdressers are exposed to over 5,000 chemicals that are present in hair dye, many of which are known cancer-causing agents. Authorities say workers in nail salons work with polishes and astringents that contain more carcinogens than products with which workers in oil refineries and auto garages have to deal. Painters are also exposed to arsenic and fumes of benzene and other chemicals that pose risks that include lymphoma, leukemia, bladder or kidney tumors and multiple myeloma.

The fumes of formaldehyde in the preservatives undertakers and morticians use are carcinogenic, and the same applies for acrolein, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide that are present in the smoke inhaled by firefighters. Agricultural workers and their families face high risks of prostate cancer due to exposure to insecticides, and construction workers can develop gastrointestinal cancer, mesothelioma and lung cancer after asbestos exposure. Workers in rubber manufacturing might not even know that they face exceptionally high risks of leukemia, bladder cancer and lung cancer.

Although the California workers’ compensation insurance program covers occupational cancers, proving such a condition to be work-related could be challenging. This is because of the progressive development of these diseases. However, no one needs to navigate a benefits claim without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can assist with the claim and also work to get maximum benefits for the worker under applicable laws.