Occupational Illnesses & Missouri Workers Compensation
Workers compensation provides medical and wage loss benefits to workers who get injured at their place of work. Occupational diseases, or illnesses caused by exposure to certain substances at the workplace are also covered by workers compensation.
Each year in Missouri, around 1,000 workers compensation claims are filed for occupational diseases. This number is nearly half of what it was in 2004, primarily due to a change in the definition of occupational disease brought about in 2005. The Missouri Department of Labor defines an occupational illness as “an identifiable disease arising with or without human fault out of and in the course of employment. The occupational exposure must be the prevailing factor in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability.” This is a broad definition of an occupational disease and includes various health conditions involving all body systems.
Classification of Occupational Diseases
In 2014, many workers compensation claims for occupational illnesses were made in the “other” category, which means that the worker suffered from a variety of health problems caused by conditions at the workplace. Claims for occupational diseases that could be categorized include the following conditions:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Loss of hearing
- Mental stress
- Respiratory disorders
- Contagious disease
- Dust disease
- Mental disorder
- Hepatitis C
Essentially all industries and occupations area represented in occupational illness statistics. Whether the worker drives a forklift, or has a desk job, he/she could be at risk of an occupational illness. Based on 2014 statistics, the incidence of occupational illnesses is highest in the manufacturing sector, followed by public administration. Here is the list of industries in which the incidence of occupational illnesses is highest:
- Manufacturing (28.5%)
- Public administration (9.2%)
- Healthcare (7.6 %)
- Construction (5.7%)
- Retail trade (5.7%)
- Transportation (5.2%)
- Wholesale trade (3.5%)
- Waste services (3.4%)
- Finance and insurance (3%)
- Accommodations and food service (3%)
Seeking Legal Help
The workers compensation system is pretty straightforward and does not require injured workers to prove fault in order to receive benefits. However, it does require that the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment. So, as long as it is clear that the injury is work-related, the worker can get the benefits. However, in the case of occupational diseases it might not always be easy to prove that the condition was a direct result of exposure to certain conditions in the workplace. Employers may argue that the illness was not caused by workplace conditions, and is a result of conditions outside of the workplace.
If you find yourself in a situation where the employer is trying to minimize or deny your workers compensation claim, get in touch with a qualified St Louis workplace injury Lawyer at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann. Our law office has been working to protect the rights of injured Missouri workers for over 20 years and can do the same for you! Call (314) 361–4300 to request a free consultation today!