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Are illnesses covered by workers' compensation?

Workers' compensation will not cover every little ache or pain employers may experience, but this type of employer-provided insurance can cover many serious illnesses. The key factor that decides if an illness is covered is whether it is work-related or not.

As workers' compensation exists to assist those who were injured in some way while working, only illnesses contracted due to work conditions are covered. Further, workers' comp will not likely cover an employee if he or she gets the flu from other workers. Illnesses must be more defined than a simple cold or flu.

Unfortunately, many Pennsylvania industries carry at least some risk of contracting an illness or disease. Some of the most common occupational illnesses include respiratory conditions, poisoning and skin disorders. The following describes some of the causes associated with occupational illnesses:

Poisoning: Ingesting or absorbing toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium, lead, carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde and many others.

Respiratory Conditions: Inhaling hazardous substances such as vapors, gases, biological agents, dust, chemicals, fumes and others.

Skin Disorders: When skin is exposed to various substances including chemicals and even some plants, skin conditions and diseases may occur.

Other occupational illnesses include:

-- Loss of vision or hearing

-- Heat-related conditions

-- Deep cold-related conditions

-- Illness due to radiation exposure

-- Diseases contracted through blood borne pathogens such as AIDS or hepatitis

Of course, there are many other types of occupational illnesses not mentioned here. If you believe you may have contracted such an illness, speak to your employer about workers' compensation as soon as possible. Consulting with a Pennsylvania-based workplace injury attorney is also a good way to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Occupational Safety and Health Definitions," accessed Sep. 24, 2015

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