Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, Pennsylvania employees are eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits not only for injuries sustained at work, but also for occupational illnesses. Occupational illnesses typically develop over time, after repeated exposure to workplace toxins. Workers may contract various occupational illnesses depending on the type of work they do; construction, health care and factory workers are typically at high risk of occupational illness due to the hazardous nature of those industries.
Types of Occupational Illnesses
The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act (PODA) lists compensable occupational diseases and the corresponding schedules of compensation. Some occupational illnesses covered under the Act include:
Toxic chemical poisoning and skin diseases – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 13 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to toxic chemicals that are absorbed through the skin. Some other toxic substances listed in the PODA include arsenic, lead, mercury, manganese, beryllium and phosphorous.
Asbetosis and mesothelioma – Although it is now strictly regulated, workers may still be exposed to asbestos, a toxic mineral that can cause asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbetosis is a chronic respiratory disease, whereas mesothelioma is an aggressive, usually terminal form of cancer.
Lung diseases – Workers who handle silicon dioxide, anthracite dust or bituminous coal may develop serious lung diseases such as silicosis, anthracosilicosis, coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, brown lung, bronchiolitis obliterans, farmer’s lung and flock worker’s lung.
Hepatitis and other infectious diseases – Healthcare workers are at risk of contracting hepatitis and other infectious diseases from needlestick injuries and other workplace accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that there are approximately 800,000 needlestick injuries each year.
All other occupational diseases – Workers may be eligible for compensation for all other occupational diseases if the disease is both peculiar to the industry or occupation and not common to the general population. Hearing loss is therefore only compensable as a form of specific loss if it is in excess of ten percent.
Reporting Requirements for Occupational Illness in Pennsylvania
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, injured workers must report injuries to their employers within 120 days and workers’ compensation claims must be filed within three years of the injury. For occupational illness claims, there is an additional requirement that the worker’s disability occurred within 300 weeks of his or her last exposure to the hazardous workplace substance. Therefore, if an occupational illness does not cause disability or death until after the 300-week timeframe, the worker will likely be barred from receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Benefits for Occupational Illnesses
If you contracted an occupational illness at work, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. The workers’ compensation process can be complicated, especially when it involves an occupational illness. Let us fight on your behalf to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
From our offices in and around Philadelphia, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.